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EPA seeks to add more peer review of Bristol Bay assessment

Carey RestinoThe Arctic Sounder

Given the extensive nature of the input provided by peer reviewers of the draft assessment of the Bristol Bay watershed, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced it will incorporate another level of feedback into its review process following its revision based on not only the panel of scientists but also the extensive number of public comments.

Hanady Kader, spokesperson for the EPA, said in an email that the EPA has already taken steps to incorporate key input from the peer reviewers, including clarifying the overall purpose and objective of the assessment, clarifying the development and use of a realistic mining scenario, expanding the use of conceptual models to better illustrate how mining activity could potentially affect Bristol Bay’s fisheries and enhancing the review of modern mining practices to consider additional strategies for mitigation of potential adverse impacts of mining.

Kader said the EPA has convened a group of qualified experts to review the revised draft assessment in light of the issues raised by the peer reviewers.

“The final Bristol Bay Assessment will reflect this future expert review and be accompanied by EPA’s point-by-point response to the peer reviewers’ comments as well as public comments,” Kader said. “In terms of process, we intend to release a final report when we have reviewed and considered all public comments and feedback from the independent peer review panel.”

Kader said the peer review report is an essential part of the process, which is guided by science.

“The quality of our science is vital to the credibility of EPA’s decisions and ultimately, the agency’s effectiveness in protecting human health and the environment,” Kader said. “The Final Peer Review Report provides EPA with constructive input on each chapter and appendix of the findings. These recommendations will be instrumental in ensuring that the final Bristol Bay Assessment is based on the most relevant information available, reflects the best sci­ence, and is of high scientific quality.”

The preceding report was first published by The Bristol Bay Times and is republished here with permission.