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Federal Court rules in favour of destruction of Sandy Pond

The Telegram reports that the Federal Court has ruled against our challenge of the Schedule 2 destruction of Sandy Pond in Newfoundland.

We joined with the Sandy Pond Alliance in March 2010 to challenge the lake being turned into a tailings pond to service Vale’s multibillion-dollar hydromet processing plant at Long Harbour. The hearing of the case was severely delayed through procedural challenges and not heard until late-February 2013 in St. John’s.

Sandy Pond Then

Sandy Pond Now

This past March, the Telegram reported that Vale had removed about 1400 fish, mostly trout, from Sandy Pond in July-September 2011 and June 2012 (before the hearing of the case). “Then the company claimed their former home as a containment area for tailings from its new hydromet nickel processing plant. …Vale has added three dams at the Sandy Pond site – increasing the capacity of the containment area. …Liners have been installed. …The site formerly known as Sandy Pond will start being filled with hydromet tailings when the processing facility begins production, scheduled for later this year.”

Today, the Telegram notes, “Alliance lawyer Owen Myers said changes to the federal Fisheries Act in 2002 – specifically the addition of Metal Mining Effluent Regulations allowing for the designation of a pond or lake as a tailings impoundment – were not in line with existing statutes and the very purpose of the Fisheries Act.”

“(But) in a decision issued yesterday, Justice Elizabeth Heneghan dismissed the alliance’s application, laying out how the regulations and the Act stand.” In her 38-page decision, the judge stated, “In the first place, the Applicant is mistaken when asserting that conservation is the paramount purpose of the Act. …The fact that regulations enacted pursuant to the Act may have negative environmental consequences does not, per se, render those regulations invalid. …There is no doubt that the said residue, that is the tailings (from the Long Harbour plant), contains deleterious substances and that these substances will be deposited in Sandy Pond. While this prospect stirred public opinion and precipitated this litigation, the use of Sandy Pond in this manner is not illegal but expressly authorized by the (referenced) provisions of the Act. …Parliament legislated the provisions allowing the enactment of the regulations in question here. There is no basis for judicial intervention. The will of the people, with respect to legislation, can be expressed at the ballot box.”

Today’s news article can be read here. Numerous blogs on the issue can be found here.