The Georgia Straight reports that, “Vancouver-based Taseko Mines …plans to turn Fish Lake – known to the Tsilhqot’in First Nations as Teztan Biny and home to an endemic population of an estimated 85,000 rainbow trout ¬ into a giant impoundment reservoir for toxic mine-waste rock, altering the hydrology and ecosystem of the entire watershed along the way.”
“Behind the emotional debate that inevitably surrounds large-scale mining projects, there are some troubling trends that don’t bode well for the environment. In 2002, Fisheries and Oceans Canada quietly brought about, under Section 36 of the Fisheries Act, the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations, a convenient way to legitimize the use of an unknown number of freshwater lakes across Canada as mine-waste and tailings ponds.”
“The regulations formed a substantial loophole for mining companies that enables them to propose fish-bearing lakes as ‘tailings-impoundment areas’. The benefits to business are obvious; not having to engineer and build secure storage facilities translates into many millions of dollars in savings.”
“Fish Lake happens to lie within the watershed of the Taseko River, a major salmon-bearing tributary of the Fraser River system via the Chilko and Chilcotin rivers, raising serious concern about the mine’s possible downstream impacts on salmon habitat.”
“There have also recently been some disturbing developments in the United States, once considered to have considerably tougher mining regulations than Canada. In June this year, the United States Supreme Court upheld a decision allowing the Kensington Mine in Alaska to dump more than 900,000 litres of wastewater per day into Lower Slate Lake even though it will kill the lake’s fish; the decision has sent a chill across the environmental community in both Canada and the U.S.”
The full Georgia Straight article is at http://www.straight.com/article-249305/fight-looms-over-fish-lake.
For information about the Council of Canadians campaign against turning freshwater lakes across Canada – including Sandy Pond in Newfoundland – into tailing impoundment areas for mine waste, please go to http://canadians.org/water/issues/TIAs/index.html.
To read a news report highlighting Council of Canadians water campaigner Meera Karunananthan and British Columbia-Yukon organizer Harjap Grewal’s visit to Fish Lake this July, please go to http://www.bclocalnews.com/bc_cariboo/williamslaketribune/news/National_Council_of_Canadians_members_visit_Fish_Lake.html.
To read an article about these ‘Schedule 2’ regulations from the Spring 2009 issue of Canadian Perspectives, please go to http://canadians.org/publications/CP/2009/spring/CP_spring_09_tia.pdf.