The Chickaloon Village Traditional Council (CVTC) alleges that Alaska-based Usibelli Coal Mine (UCM) and Tokyo-based J-Power have violated the OECD Guidelines with relation to the exploration permit and other activities related to the Wishbone Hill coal mine in Alaska, USA In 1997, UCM purchased coal mining leases for 8,000 acres near Wishbone Hill, within Chickaloon ancestral lands. The complainants allege that in 2010, pursuant to prior exploration and mining permits based upon 20-year-old stale, inaccurate environmental and cultural data, UCM built a coal hauling and exploration road to the mine site less than 100 yards from the Chickaloon Tribal school, drilled up to 20 exploratory drill holes and excavated three trenches. The Wishbone Hill mine is expected to reach full production in 2012, and J-Power, a Japanese electric utility, is “the most likely purchaser” of coal from the mine.
Specifically, the complainant contends that UCM has failed to contribute to sustainable development, violated the human rights of Chickaloon Tribal members, sought and accepted exemptions not contemplated in the statutory or regulatory framework, has failed to properly consult and disclose information to Tribal members, and has failed to prepare an appropriate environmental impact assessment for its Wishbone Hill activities. According to the complainant, UCMs exploration activities were environmentally destructive, socially disruptive and undertaken without any Tribal consultation. The company has failed to provide the community with accurate information on the effects of its (proposed) activities on the survival of a culturally important salmon species and has ignored CVTCs considerable efforts to restore the salmon, decimated by previous coal mining. CVTCs further alleges that UCMs environmental impact assessment is based on incomplete and false information about mammal (particularly moose), salmon and bird species and habitats and that it failed to adequately address the Tribes concerns about water and health problems their religious and spiritual rights, their life-ways, ceremonies and spiritual relation to their ancestral lands.
In addition, the complainants allege that J-Power has failed to encourage its supplier UCM to apply principles of corporate conduct compatible with the Guidelines, nor has it disclosed information on social and environmental risks with regard to its supplier UCM, thereby placing it in violation of Chapters II and III of the Guidelines.
Relevant OECD Guidelines
- Version 2000 Chapter II
- Version 2000 Chapter II Paragraph II.1
- Version 2000 Chapter II Paragraph II.2
- Version 2000 Chapter II Paragraph II.5
- Version 2000 Chapter III
- Version 2000 Chapter III Paragraph III.1
- Version 2000 Chapter III Paragraph III.2
- Version 2000 Chapter III Paragraph III.4
- Version 2000 Chapter III Paragraph III.5
- Version 2000 Chapter V
- Version 2000 Chapter V Paragraph V.2
- Version 2000 Chapter V Paragraph V.3
The US and Japanese NCPs collaborated on the initial assessment, with the US NCP contacting the US-based complainants and UCM, and the Japanese NCP contacting J-Power. It took the NCPs over one year to complete the initial assessment, finally issuing a statement signed by both NCPs in July 2012. Though the NCPs acknowledged the relevance of the issues raised by the complainants, they rejected the case against UCM on the grounds that the company has only domestic (US) operations and is thus not a multinational enterprise. The NCPs claimed that this means that the Guidelines “do not pertain” to UCM. The NCPs did not mention the Guidelines stipulation that “The Guidelines represent good practice for all companies”. The NCPs also rejected the case against J-Power, claiming that the business relationship between the two companies is “not strong enough to require the application of the Guidelines”. The NCPs do not explain exactly what sort of relationship would be “strong enough” to require the application of the Guidelines.