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UPDATE: Our legal challenge against Schedule 2 goes to Federal Court on February 27-28

Water campaigner Meera Karunananthan and Atlantic organizer Angela Giles at Sandy Pond

Water campaigner Meera Karunananthan and Atlantic organizer Angela Giles at Sandy Pond

Almost three years after the Council of Canadians helped launch a legal challenge against the Harper government’s Schedule 2 regulations that allow for mining companies to dump their tailings waste into freshwater lakes, the case will be heard in Federal Court on February 27-28.

The Sandy Pond Alliance – represented by lawyer Owen Myers – argues that the regulations are contrary to the intent of the Fisheries Act because they permit 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.

Background
On March 22, 2010, we issued a media release that stated, “At a press conference this morning the newly formed Sandy Pond Alliance to Protect Canadian Waters is announcing its intention to launch a legal challenge against a loophole in the Fisheries Act that is allowing Vale Inco to use Sandy Pond, a lake near Long Harbour, as a dumpsite for toxic waste generated by their operations.” We highlighted, “Members of the Sandy Pond Alliance include Natural History Society of Newfoundland and Labrador, Mining Watch Canada, The Council of Canadians, Sierra Club of Canada and a growing number of residents of the province who are concerned with the immanent destruction of Sandy Pond.” Over a two-year period, the Council of Canadians has contributed $10,000 to this legal challenge.

Media coverage
On June 4, 2010, the Vancouver Sun reported, “The organization will launch a legal challenge today seeking to overturn Schedule 2, an amendment to the Fisheries Act that allows mining companies to dump toxic waste in lakes and rivers by reclassifying them as tailings impoundment areas.” On September 11, 2010, a front-page Toronto Star article reported, “Meera Karunananthan, national water campaigner for the Council of Canadians and a member of the newly-created Sandy Pond Alliance, (says), ‘The authorities are allowing the company to use our pristine water as one big garbage dump.'”

The court’s decision
The ruling after the February 27-28, 2013 hearing could come weeks or months after the court date. But time is very tight, because the Vale plant that would dump approximately 400,000 tonnes of tailings annually into Sandy Pond is to be completed in 2013.

For more on the campaign to save Sandy Pond, please see our web-page at http://canadians.org/water/issues/TIAs/sandy-pond.html, and the Sandy Pond Alliance website at http://sandypondalliance.org/legalchallenge/.