Tuesday, June 17, 2008

16 lakes to be "reclassified" as toxic dump sites

CBC : 16 Canadian lakes are slated to be officially but quietly "reclassified" as toxic dump sites for mines. The lakes include prime wilderness fishing lakes from B.C. to Newfoundland.

Environmentalists say the process amounts to a "hidden subsidy" to mining companies, allowing them to get around laws against the destruction of fish habitat.

Under the Fisheries Act, it's illegal to put harmful substances into fish-bearing waters. But, under a little-known subsection known as Schedule Two of the mining effluent regulations, federal bureaucrats can redefine lakes as "tailings impoundment areas."
That means mining companies don't need to build containment ponds for toxic mine tailings.

Catherine Coumans, spokeswoman for the environmental group Mining Watch : "Something that used to be a lake — or a river, in fact, they can use rivers — by being put on this section two of this regulation is no longer a river or a lake," she said. "It's a tailings impoundment area. It's a waste disposal site. It's an industrial waste dump."

Steve Robertson, exploration manager for Imperial Metals : "This is a project that can bring a lot of good jobs, long-term jobs, well-paying jobs ..."

When was the public review process that okayed subverting the Fisheries Act to allow public lands to be used as toxic dump sites for private interests?
I'll bet you're not at all surprised to learn that Sacred Headwaters is on that list.

8 comments:

skdadl said...

"the mining effluent regulations" -- "regulations"? What is the status of those? Where did they come from, and when? And where's the Tory in all this?

Simply appalling.

Anonymous said...

Time to write some letters.

Mind if I just cut and paste your post?

Alison said...

Anon : Please do. Apparently there are now facebook groups for this too.

Skdadl :
Section 35 of the Fisheries Act prohibits destruction of fish habitat. Section 36 prohibits the release of "deleterious substances" into waters frequented by fish.
The December 2002 Metal Mining Liquid Effluent Regulations (MMLERs), under the auspices of the FA, defined how much of those "deleterious substances" may be released into the environment.
Fisheries Act says "None", but MMLERS say some, which ones, and how much.
Schedule 2 of the MMLERs defined which lakes were already being used as tailing ponds so as to distinguish them from regular lakes.
There were supposed to be many safeguards in place to prevent new lakes from being added to Schedule 2 without public consultation.
In 2004, Environment Canada announced it was upgrading the MMLERs. It did not mention that it was adding a new lake to the list.

This is my very abbreviayed understanding of this pdf.

Saskboy said...

I'd join a facebook group about this, do you have a link handy?
If you're feeling time-generous, I'd also appreciate the link as a comment on my blog-posted complaint about this travesty.

Tommy D said...

Hi Alison,

I caught your post about Canadian lakes being turned into dumps and I
thought I'd drop you a line. My name is Thom Duggan and I'm one of the many Canadians working to end this backward plan. So, I just wanted to say hi and thank you, for one.

One of the ways we're going to be trying to keep Canadians involved
and informed on this issue is though the blogging circles in Canada.

I'd like it if you'd agree to join our "blogcorps". It's mostly just a
special list that we'd keep of bloggers, like yourself, who would like updates and alerts about the issue from time to time (no
coverage-obligation, of course). Some bloggers have signaled that they want to get involved more deeply in the campaign, and that's great too.

If you'd like some background information even now on the issue, I can send you a few things. Or if you'd like to get in touch with someone from the campaign, either nationally or in your general area, we'll be able to do that stuff, too (we have a webpage coming soon that will bring local citizens, bloggers, scientists, and activists together...more on that later).

We've been blown away by the response online; thanks for being a part of that. Would you like to receive updates from us on this in the future?

Thom Duggan
Coalition to Stop Lake Dumping

Tommy D said...

thom.duggan [at] gmail

themusicgod1 said...

the "sacred headwaters" link is broken, you may want to fix that broken link.

Alison said...

Couldn't find that old link anywhere on Wilderness Committee - used another link instead.
Thanks for the reminder - time to have another look at this issue...

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