FAIRBANKS, AK (Nov. 7, 2023) – Last week, a nonprofit formed by a group of Alaskans concerned with public safety on Alaska roads and in Alaska communities, filed a preliminary injunction request against the State of Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (AKDOT).

Committee for Safe Communities (CSC) moved for a preliminary injunction ordering AKDOT to follow and enforce applicable laws and regulations, to abate an attractive public nuisance, and to stop violating the right of equal protection for both the nonprofit and the Alaskan public. The preliminary injunction request was filed by Jason A. Weiner of Jason Weiner & Associates, P.C., and it is supported by affidavits of Keith Whitaker, Bill Ward, Chance Shank, Sue Wilken, Jeffrey Jon Cook, Robert L. McHattie, P.E., and Barbara Schuhmann and the memorandum of counsel (attached).

CSC is an Alaska nonprofit corporation concerned with transportation safety on Alaska roads and in Alaska communities. Its directors and officers live in the Tetlin to Fort Knox corridor, which is a mostly two-laned road. CSC is concerned about the violations of law, safety concerns and the public nuisance created by the AKDOT by failing to enforce its own laws and regulations, by its ignoring an attractive nuisance and by its allowing activity that endangers children without waiting for or implementing any of the safety recommendations made by the engineer hired to evaluate the Manh Choh ore haul project.

“CSC is not against mining,” said Patrice Lee, spokesperson of CSC. “What we want is to advocate and educate about community and road safety, socioeconomic, and environmental safety concerns impacting all Alaskans. All Alaskans deserve the right to enjoy our beautiful state free from unreasonable risks to their personal safety, as required by state and federal laws. Our goals are to hold our government officials accountable so they will hold Kinross/Contango to the same standards as other mining operations in our state; seek the proper environmental and safety studies as required by state and federal laws from Alaska and federal governments as well as Kinross/Contango; request from mining officials the plan they developed to ensure the safety of Alaskan residents as well as the safety of everyone using these highways; and get this project placed on hold until all the required studies, permits and safety plans have been completed and vetted by non-biased professionals. This will ensure that our environment, highways, and food sources will not be compromised.”

According to the motion filed, Kinross Gold Corporation and Contango, ORE, Inc., operating as Peak Gold, LLC (Peak Gold) announced plans to extract gold ore at Manh Choh mine near Tetlin, AK in approximately 2021. Peak Gold plans to haul ore from Manh Choh mine using 248 miles of public roads to the Fort Knox Gold Mine east of Fox in the Fairbanks Mining District. The public roads Peak Gold plans to use for this ore haul operation have not been designated by AKDOT for industrial use, and Peak Gold has not obtained any transportation special permits. The distance of travel will be approximately 496 miles round trip on roads. The trucks Peak Gold announced it will use are known as “B-trains,” which consist of a tractor pulling two trailers. These B-trains will be 95 feet long, weigh 30 tons unloaded and more than 80 tons loaded, and run every 12 minutes, 24 hours a day, every day of the year for approximately five years or longer. Peak Gold’s current plan would start “trial runs” of this ore haul operation in the last quarter of 2023, ramping up to 120 transits every day through Fairbanks by the summer of 2024.

AKDOT has publicly announced that this ore haul operation is appropriate and legal; however, AKDOT has not required Peak Gold to follow the requirements of 17 AAC 35 or 17 AAC 25 in designing this ore haul operation. It also has not required any special permit of Peak Gold to use public highways and bridges for the ore haul operation.

The Motion for Preliminary Injunction, Order Granting Motion for Preliminary Injunction, Motion for Expedited Consideration of Motion for Preliminary Injunction, Order Granting Motion for Expedited Consideration of Motion for Preliminary Injunction, and the Affidavit of Jason Weiner are attached and also can be found on CSC’s website at https://www.aksafecommunities.org/.

CSC welcomes support from Alaskans who share these same concerns and urges interested citizens to reach out to CSC via CSC@DotLakeVillage.org. For more information about CSC, this lawsuit or safety issues surrounding Kinross/Contango, the Manh Choh mine and ore hauling operations, visit aksafecommunities.org and follow CSC on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AKSafeCommunities/ and Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/aksafecommunities/.

For More Information, Contact:
Patrice Lee, 907-799-9580 or patricelee3294@gmail.com

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