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UPDATE: Council of Canadians in Federal Court today to protect freshwater lakes

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow is in St. John’s, Newfoundland this morning, along with St. John’s chapter activist Ken Kavanagh, Board member Andrea Furlong, and members of the Sandy Pond Alliance for the Protection of Canadian Waters (SPA).

They are gathered for the Federal Court hearing of our challenge against Schedule 2, a federal regulation that allows mining companies to dump their tailings waste into freshwater lakes.

SPA lawyer Owen Myers will argue that the regulation is ultra vires or contrary to the intent of the Fisheries Act because it permits the destruction of freshwater fish habitat and unique biodiversity. Or in other words, because the Fisheries Act says it is against the law to harm fish-bearing waters, the Schedule 2 amendment should not be allowed to violate the act itself.

The hearing – which begins at 9:30 am NT – is scheduled for today and tomorrow.

The ruling, however, could come weeks or months later. This is a concern because the Vale plant that would dump approximately 400,000 tonnes of tailings annually into Sandy Pond, a lake near Long Harbour, Newfoundland, is to be completed this year. The court challenge was launched in March 2010, but has faced delays and challenges by Vale and the Mining Association of Canada.

For more, please read:

MEDIA ADVISORY: Sandy Pond Alliance Court Case to Decide Fate of Lakes across Canada, February 26, 2013
NEWS: Groups sue government over destruction of freshwater lakes
NEWS: Vale targets pristine lake for tailings
NEWS: Vale granted intervener status in Sandy Pond federal court challenge
NEWS: Vale wants Schedule 2 challenge heard in Ontario
NEWS: Sandy Pond fish to be relocated soon
UPDATE: Timeline of challenge against Schedule 2 in Federal Court