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ACTION ALERT: Help protect Teztan Biny (Fish Lake)

Please see the following action alert written by BC-Yukon regional organizer Harjap Grewal:

Taseko Mines Ltd. is proposing the use of Teztan Biny as a acid tailings lake.

This is a practice that since 2002 has been supported by controversial changes to the Fisheries Act under Schedule 2 which allow for the redefining of any lake as a ‘Tailings Impoundment Area’.

The two kilometre-wide open pit of the proposed mine, along with tailings pond, waste rock piles, roads, and transmission lines would destroy the entire sub-alpine ecosystem around the lake and Teztan Biny.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) is asking for public input about a recent response by Taseko Mines Ltd. to a letter from the CEAA.

The letter asked Taseko to clarify its November 2nd declaration to investors that it intends to increase the life of the mine from 20 to 33 years, and “mine deeper, higher grade mineralization.”

The CEAA would like to determine if Taseko’s response is adequate in order to proceed to public hearings on the proposed project.

Taseko is suggesting that the estimated 70% mineral reserves are not significant to their application even though they have promoted an increase in the life of the mine by 13 years in a recent press release.

We believe that the information provided by Taseko does not address the potential environmental impacts of this increase in mineral reserves.

The notice from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency states, “Aboriginal groups, governments and the public are invited to review the proponent’s response and send comments to the Panel.”

“The Panel must receive all comments on the response in writing by Monday November 23, 2009 in order to be considered.”

As such, these comments should be sent as soon as possible to prosperity.review@ceaa-acee.gc.ca.

I believe that Taseko’s response is inadequate and that the environmental assessment process should not proceed to public hearings.

I am very concerned that the Stratus Consulting report highlights that the information Taseko has provided in its Environmental Impact Statement “does not permit a reasoned evaluation of potential adverse effects to water quality, water quantity, fish and wildlife under variable conditions.”

Furthermore, I am outraged that Teztan Biny and lakes across the country could even be considered as toxic dump sites for mining corporations under the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations of the Fisheries Act.

These so-called ‘tailing impoundment areas’ represent the privatization of a public resource and will have devastating social and environmental consequences.

As we deal with the impacts of climate change, mismanagement and overuse of fresh water, it is unconscionable to allow the destruction of entire bodies of freshwater for mining purposes.

I demand that you protect our natural bodies of water by preventing them from being used as dumping areas for mine waste. You can do so by rejecting the Taseko Mines Ltd. application for Teztan Biny.

– “The Panel’s letter regarding the announcement of increased mineral reserves is dated November 10, 2009 and is available on the project registry at http://www.ceaa-acee.gc.ca/050/documents/39478/39478E.pdf (CEAR# 1316).”

– “The response provided by Taseko Mines Ltd. to the Panel’s letter is dated November 12, 2009 and is available on the project’s registry at http://www.ceaa-acee.gc.ca/050/documents/39528/39528E.pdf (CEAR# 1344).”

– The Stratus Consulting report commissioned by the Tsilhqot’in National Government and Williams Lake Indian Band highlighting that the information that Taseko has provided in its Environmental Impact Statement “does not permit a reasoned evaluation of potential adverse effects to water quality, water quantity, fish and wildlife under variable conditions,” can be read at http://www.ceaa.gc.ca/050/documents/39529/39529E.pdf.

– A recent article about this report has  been published in the Williams Lake Tribune: http://www.bclocalnews.com/business/70446312.html.

– A Tsilhqot’in Nation background document on Teztan Biny (Fish Lake) is at http://www.protectfishlake.ca/media/TNG_Teztan_Biny_Backgrounder_April_2009.pdf.

– A Canadian Perspectives article on this issue, ‘Mining Companies Turning Lakes into Toxic Dumps’ (Spring 2009), can be read at http://canadians.org/publications/CP/2009/spring/CP_spring_09_tia.pdf.

– Fight looms over Fish Lake (Georgia Straight, Aug 27th, 2009), http://www.straight.com/article-249305/fight-looms-over-fish-lake.

– ACTION ALERT: Freshwater lakes, not ‘tailings impoundment areas’, http://canadians.org/action/2008/27-Jun-08.html.