Re: ‘Candidates weigh in on Raven coal mine proposal’, a story by John Harding in the March 19 edition of The NEWS.
In response to the claim that watersheds associated with mines on Vancouver Island have recovered from acid mine and heavy metal drainage or “are just fine” — that has no basis in fact.
See reports on B.C. water sources and mine pollution compiled by the West Coast Law Clinic that provide ample evidence for the opposite — that rivers do not recover on their own and that due to lack of oversight and fining on the part of the government, mining companies are free to pass the billions needed to pay for cleanup to taxpayers.
Vancouver Island examples:
• the Tsolum River reclamation from a mine that operated a mere four years cost taxpayers over $6 million. After almost ten years of reclamation activity, fish are only recently returing to the Tsolum.
• the Union Bay coal pile cleanup that was just designated a high health risk area by the government will cost taxpayers more than $14 million to cleanup and continues to poison shellfish in the area.
• a watershed associated with a mine near Lake Nimkish that operated just a few years is expected to cost taxpayers milllions to clean.
• and finally, watershed groups in Campbell River have been reporting arsenic levels 30 times permitted in Long Lake.
For more evidence review reports of domestic well contamination from long abandoned coal mines in the Nanaimo area that will cost the community millions to clean up. Finally, the auditor general slammed the environmental assessment office for failing to protect the environment and for failing to secure bonds from mining companies that will cover the billions needed for recovery of contaminated watersheds.
By claiming watersheds either recover from mine toxins or are “just fine” to support the Liberal’s coal mine expansion program on the Island is to promulgate an industry myth that harms us all and passes the debt for reclamation to our children and their children.
Sharon E. Small