Trudeau approves dumping mine waste into two fish-bearing creeks in British Columbia

Image: Location of the KSM mine. Photo: Mike Kay | Rivers Without Borders

In 2002, the Harper government allowed a loophole in the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations of the Fisheries Act, giving the green light to mining companies to dump their toxic waste into lakes and creeks.

Originally introduced under the former Liberal government and intended only to apply to lakes already dead, Schedule 2 allows for the reclassification of a lake as a 'tailings impoundment area' no longer protected by the Fisheries Act.

In this June 29 blog we noted, "The Trudeau government has approved a 'tailings management facility' in the upper tributaries of Teigen and North Treaty creeks (which form part of the Nass River drainage system) near Stewart, British Columbia."

Now DeSmog Canada reports, "Two fish-bearing creeks will be used for 2.3 billion tonnes of toxic tailings from the proposed Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell (KSM) mine in northwest B.C., wiping out habitat for several populations of small Dolly Varden fish. Seabridge Gold Inc. has been given federal government approval to use upper tributaries of the North Treaty and South Teigen Creeks, which flow into the Nass and Bell-Irving rivers, for tailings from the planned gold, copper and molybdenum mine 65 kilometres northwest of Stewart and 30 kilometres from the Alaska border."

That article adds, "Seabridge plans to build 23-kilometre tunnels to take the mining waste to the approved watersheds on the Canadian side of the border but the closest watershed is the Unuk River, one of Alaska’s premier salmon rivers."

The Council of Canadians has long opposed Schedule 2. We have participated in campaigns to stop Teztan Biny (Fish Lake) in British Columbia and Sandy Pond in Newfoundland and Labrador from being turned into tailings impoundment areas.

Since Schedule 2 came into force in 2002, federal permission has been given for 27 bodies of fish-bearing waters to be used to dump tailings.

We call on the Trudeau government to rescind its decision on KSM mine and to protect waterways by ending the Schedule 2 provision.