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NEWS: Long Harbour residents reflect on Sandy Pond

The St. John’s Telegram reports today on three Long Harbour residents and their views on Sandy Pond being turned into a Schedule 2 tailings impoundment area.

Long Harbour once had the ERCO phosphorous plant, which closed in 1989 and left behind a five-million-tonne slag pile and legacy of cancer.

“(Resident and fisherman Andy) Murphy, who worked at ERCO for 14 years, is worried what the town might be facing once Vale’s nickel processing plant swings into operation in 2013, handling ore from the Voisey’s Bay mine in Labrador.”

“Murphy has been fighting the use of Sandy Pond — a pristine lake high in the hills beyond the slag pile — as a dumpsite for mine tailings.”

“Discounting an environmental assessment’s conclusion that Sandy Pond has few fish, Murphy says the pond boasts the best fishing in Newfoundland — thousands of four- and five-pound trout that feed on purple smelt.”

“The Vale plan is to deposit sulphur residue from the processing facility beneath the surface of Sandy Pond to prevent it from turning into sulphuric acid.”

Murphy is concerned about what will happen when tropical storms hit the community. “Murphy is even more frightened about what might happen when treated wastewater from the hydromet processing facility is discharged in Placentia Bay.”

“He remembers ERCO’s raw effluent spill into Placentia Bay in the 1960s. …The plant closed for awhile after the effluent spill into the bay. That got fixed, but there were also concerns about air quality and coke dust.”

“Murphy is considered to be a bit of an oddball by some in Long Harbour now for his views about Vale and his environmental concerns.” The focus now is on the new jobs.

“Brenda Piercey…has been applying for janitor work at the Vale camp, a worker motel now under construction, or at any of the Vale facilities. (She says) ‘I don’t want work to come here to the harbour only to kill us all off…’ But she says most people have to put their trust in Vale and the provincial and federal governments that the hydromet plant will be drastically different (than ERCO).”

“Long Harbour Mayor Gary Keating…insists that 90 per cent of the town is in support of the Vale project.”

“With employment at the nickel processing facility expected to create 450 jobs, along with spinoffs, Keating is hoping the town’s population will grow by another 100-150.”

“He says the federal and provincial governments will safeguard the environment.”

The full article is at http://www.thetelegram.com/News/Local/2010-11-27/article-1998363/Past-mistakes%2C-brighter-future%3F/1.