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NEWS: Fish Lake decision gives hope for Sandy Pond

Angela Giles at Sandy Pond in June 2009

Angela Giles at Sandy Pond

The front-page of the St. John’s Telegram reports today that, “The (federal government’s) decision (against the Prosperity mine) is being celebrated as a victory by environmental groups, it has also prompted a call for the protection of other lakes in the country, including Sandy Pond.”

“’Once added to Schedule 2, healthy freshwater lakes lose all environmental protections,’ the Council (of Canadians) said in a news release, noting ‘there are 12 other lakes in Canada threatened by Schedule 2, including Sandy Pond.’ Maude Barlow, national chairwoman of the Council of Canadians, said, ‘We must now ensure that other lakes across the country are protected by ensuring that the loophole in the Fisheries Act is removed and that the practice of dumping toxins into lakes is prohibited in Canada as it is in other industrialized countries.’”

“A group called the Sandy Pond Alliance launched a lawsuit in June, seeking the removal of metal mining effluent regulations from the Federal Fisheries Act. Lawyer Owen Myers says that court challenge is still ongoing, with a decision expected soon on applications for intervener status from Vale, the Mining Association of Canada and Mining Association of British Columbia.”

“Angela Giles of Halifax, the Atlantic region organizer with the Council of Canadians, was in St. John’s this week attending a Sandy Pond Alliance annual general meeting. On Wednesday, Giles spent some time visiting Long Harbour. ‘I think it’s definitely hopeful that the federal government has made this landmark decision,’ Giles said. ‘We are still hopeful to save Sandy Pond and any other Canadian bodies of water that may be under threat of falling through the cracks under Schedule 2 of the Fisheries Act.’”

“Ken Kavanagh, newly elected chairman of the Sandy Pond Alliance and chairman of the St. John’s chapter of the Council of Canadians, cited the federal government’s concern about Fish Lake and its connecting streams. ‘If the environmental impact is specifically related to damage to that particular pond in B.C., then, from our perspective, I think we would say that’s kind of making chalk of one and cheese of another,’ Kavanagh said, ‘because this particular project here is doing the ultimate damage to Sandy Pond. It’s going to destroy it.’ Kavanagh is pleased with the decision.“ ‘If any lake in Canada is saved from destruction by any means, we’re obviously happy and I guess I would say, certainly, we’re hoping what happened there might have some bearing on the situation we’re trying to do in terms of saving Sandy Pond.’”

But, “Vale says the federal government’s decision this week to reject the Prosperity Mine project in British Columbia will have no effect on its plan to use Sandy Pond for the disposal of tailings from its hydromet processing plant in Long Harbour.”

“Vale spokesman Bob Carter said Wednesday the project was registered with both the federal and provincial governments for environmental assessment in March 2006, and following an extensive public review, both governments approved Vale’s environmental impact statement and released the project from environmental assessment in 2008.”

To read the campaign blog ‘UPDATE: Efforts to save Sandy Pond intensify after Fish Lake win’, please go to