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NEWS: Mining company sewage-dump may have worsened Attawapiskat housing crisis

APTN National News reports tonight on a sewage backup that happened in several homes in Attawapiskat in March 2005. “The sewage backup happened around the same time that De Beers, the international diamond company currently operating a mine 90 kilometres from the community, disposed their sewage sludge into the community’s lift station, said Jackie Hookimaw (whose basement was flooded at that time).”

The news report continues, “Ontario First Nations Technical Services was called in to assess the situation and its engineers concluded that the De Beers discharge may have been behind the sewage backup that ended up in the basements of homes in Attawapiskat. …The engineers also noted that the federal government was informed of the problems, but Ottawa did little to try to fix things, according to a follow-up report by different engineers with First Nations Engineering Services. …There was another sewage backup (in 2009) which displaced more people, forcing many to be evacuated. Aboriginal Affairs refused to pay for the evacuation and the band was forced to foot the bill.”

As we noted in an earlier campaign blog, the Luxembourg-based mining company De Beers owns the open-pit Victor diamond mine which is located on the Attawapiskat First Nation’s traditional lands. Concerns have been expressed about the dewatering from the mine site flowing into the Attawapiskat River, which the community relies on for fishing and to nourish local wildlife. And while it has been reported that the royalties from Victor Mine are paid to the Province of Ontario, not the Attawapiskat First Nation (despite the mine being on their traditional lands), we have been informed by our friends at MiningWatch Canada that De Beers has not even paid any of the Diamond Royalty or corporate taxes in Ontario.

Today’s news report is at http://aptn.ca/pages/news/2011/12/13/de-beers-decision-to-dump-sewage-into-attawapiskat-played-role-in-current-housing-crisis/.