Citizens Against Strip Mining

Jean Sawyer
Our Relentless Former Webmaster
Gone but not forgotten

Jean with Donna Stubbert

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Canada plans new coal effluent rules

Consultations happening in Nova Scotia and western Canada

A Feb 22, 2017 CBC news item reports that Environment and Climate Change Canada is considering plans to impose new effluent limits that would reduce harmful discharges from coal mining by 2019. Ottawa's proposal would require new coal mines to collect and monitor all effluent through a final discharge point where it would have to meet new limits for suspended solids, nitrates and a toxic byproduct called selenium.
Read the whole CBC News article

Nova Scotia allowed to use coal plants past 2030

Nova Scotia and the Feds tentatively agree that NS can keep using its coal-fired electricity plants

A Dec. 2, 2016 Canadian Press item reports that the Margaree Environmental Association and the Sierra Club Canada-Atlantic feel that the agreement would simply keep the province reliant on coal when it could do more to wean itself off fossil fuels faster. "Many Nova Scotians like us are extremely concerned about the federal-provincial agreement to allow Nova Scotia to continue to burn coal rather than having a plan to shut down coal and pet-coke burning plants as soon as possible," said Gretchen Fitzgerald, the national program director of Sierra Club Canada-Atlantic.
Read the whole CBC News item

Pioneer Coal requires assessment on blasting proposal

Environment Minister Delorey expressed the decision in a letter to Jamie MacGillivray of the Citizens Coalition on Blasting Proposal on Nov. 28.

A Dec. 4, 2014 New Glasgow News item reports "According to the Environment Department, as of Dec. 2, Pioneer Coal has yet to register for an environment assessment." MacGillivray is pleased the process will soon be underway so public consultation and meetings can be formalized. "The minister could have changed the existing approval without an assessment but Pioneer Coal must now take the steps necessary for one, he said. 'It’s a much more involved process.' "
Read the whole New Glasgow News item

Stellarton Town Council didn't receive invitation to meet with Pioneer Coal

Seems Mayor Gennoe had email problems and never received it

An Oct. 7 New Glasgow News item reports "Requests for meeting with Pioneer Coal never reached council members" Councillor Judith MacLellan brought up the matter stating "We recently received a copy of an email that was sent directly to Mayor Gennoe from Pioneer Coal offering to meet with town council and also indicating that phone calls were made to his office." MacLellan requested that a letter be sent to Pioneer Coal asking for the opportunity to meet now. She also requested that a letter be written to the Minister of Environment advising that the majority of council continues to have concerns with the request to blast. Read more about this

Stellarton Citizens Committee ramps up pressure to stop blasting

Letters to the Environment minister and School Board clearly show their position

In a letter to Environment Minister Delorey, the Committee states "We here in Stellarton have never had a liaison committee that ever followed through and gave reports and info on the mine to the public. Every member of that committee was somehow benefiting from Pioneer Coal financially, so how are they considered to be anything but biased to Pioneer Coal. As the saying goes "don't bite the hand that feeds you." When he received an extension in 2004, one of the conditions was to form a liaison committee - it was never done. For more info, Read the entire letter to Minister Delorey

In a recent letter to the School Board, the Committee states "Coal dust has many adverse health affects on our children . It may not be visible to see, but as I will show you in these documented studies, it can cause respiratory illnesses and many other health effects. Our children have been breathing in this coal dust for almost 20 years now. If we did a survey of local pharmacies I'm sure you would see an increased use of puffers and other respiratory problems. Read more of this letter to the School Board

Acadia Professor confirms likely health risk to Stellarton residents

Seems a no-brainer that after nearly 20 years, this mine should be shut down

Dr. Spooner warns of the dangers of breathing in coal dust ... The report reads: “The disease is Coal Worker’s Pneumoconiosis, characterized by coal dust-induced lesions in the gas exchange regions of the lung; the coal worker’s ‘black lung disease’ ”. Read more about this in the Oct. 2, 2014 New Glasgow News.

Pioneer Coal wants to blast near Stellarton elementary school!

This should not be allowed to happen

Hr Saunders School

Are Stellarton residents willing to put up with Pioneer Coal's latest plan? ... blasting with GR Saunders Elementary School located less than 500 meters from the mine? Public comments on Pioneer's blasting "request" to the provincial Environment Dept. closed Sept. 22. A local citizens committee is on the case and hopes to get the attention of both Environment Minister Delorey and the good residents of Stellarton. Read parent Lori Lannon's letter to Stellarton residents in the New Glasgow News. Back in May, 2014, a group of over 100 residents attended a meeting at the Museum of Industry to discuss Pioneer's blasting plans. Pioneer Coal has been mining this site since 1996.

John Chisholm of Nova Construction has died at the age of 68
Info trailer
Info trailer
We first met "Nova" at his trailer in Point Aconi just before the destruction was about to begin. Our fight was less with Chisholm, a politically well-connected businessman, but more with the Liberal, Tory and NDP governments that encouraged (and in some cases planned) strip-mining on our island. Read Jim Meek's article on Coal, Politics and John Chisholm

John Chisholm passes away
New Glasgow News
July 4, 2014

ANTIGONISH - John “Nova” Chisholm, legendary entrepreneur, philanthropist and mover of dirt, died in the early hours of July 4th at the age of 68, according to a news release on the Riverside Speedway website.

Read More

Springhill Coal Mines Ltd., a subsidiary of Nova Construction wants to dig test pits in Springhill
Is Strip Mining threatening NS’s first municipal geothermal program?

Company floats plan to mine coal in Springhill again
Halifax Herald
Jan. 23, 2014

“If the equipment does come into town to take out the coal pillars of Springhill, they will have to go over my body to do it,” said Ralph Ross, the 64-year-old owner of Ross Refrigeration in town, and an authority on the geothermal operations and capabilities that exist there because of the abandoned underground mine tunnels. ...

Read More

Prince Mine, Point Aconi

Is this what Pioneer Coal calls reclamation?
Taken from the bottom of Forest Lane.
Fall, 2013

Pioneer Coal still shopping NS for unsuspecting communities
Is Springhill next now that time is running out in Stellarton?

Coal mining could be returning to the Springhill area
Halifax Herald
Nov. 6, 2013

Mayor Max Snow confirmed Wednesday that the owners of Pioneer Coal Ltd. are doing a feasibility study on starting an open-pit mine in the Springhill Junction area. “It would be an open-pit mine and they would fill it in as they move,” said Snow. “It’s only at the feasibility study stage.” ...

See entire Herald article

Prince Mine, Point Aconi

More of the same old, same old "no is not an option" from the NDP government with no public consultation or accountability whatsoever:

Critics alarmed over pending release of coal mining study
The Canadian Press
February 16, 2012

HALIFAX — Almost six years after Nova Scotia imposed a moratorium on 13 surface coal mining projects in Cape Breton, the province is about to release a report that could revive an industry that has attracted its share of public protest.

Next month, the ministers of environment and natural resources will be handed a study -- produced by government and university scientists -- that shows promising results from a surface mine in Cape Breton that was allowed to proceed as a case study.

February 11, 2012
C.B. could see more surface mining operations in its future
Cape Breton Post

POINT ACONI — Pioneer Coal’s surface mining operations in Stellarton and Point Aconi are the only two operations currently underway in Nova Scotia. More of the controversial projects are waiting in the wings, though.

Is the Reclamation of Point Aconi a success? DNR claims that "this site will return to Acadian forest conditions", when they don't say. See and judge for yourself!

New Year's 2012

No Frackin Way SUNDAY, JANUARY 1, 2012
Fracking In Nova Scotia:
Why the big secret?

While everyone's frothing about fracking shale gas in Nova Scotia, for the past two months in the House of Assembly COAL was the subject of a great deal of debate, but not a word of it is ever mentioned or reported by the usual suspects and eco-experts. Why the big secret? Read more...

Xmas 2011 Update

Powering Nova Scotians: "Reclamation" of the Prince Mine Site in Point Aconi, Cape Breton over 5 years and 2 million tonnes of coal later with no end in sight, on YouTube Video. So why is Donkin (6.7Mb PDF) sitting approved to mine underground thermal coal but idle for over 2 years now while the Moratorium on strip mining Broughton and 12 other coal sites across CBRM expires in April 2012, then what?

August 2011 Update

Pioneer Coal's honchos have been flying around Point Aconi in their helicopter a lot lately, planning an expansion of their strip mine under the government's guise of "reclamation". More...


Look what they've done to my land, Ma
Look what they're doing to Crown land!
They're strip mining it for polluting coal
And turning it upside down, Ma
Look what they're doing to our land!

See more...

12 April 2011
POINT ACONI - Weekly explosions at Pioneer Coal's surface mine are driving some residents to consider pulling up stakes and planting 'for sale' signs on their front lawns. Nearly five years into Pioneer Coal's approval for a surface mine reclamation project some residents are contemplating leaving because of ongoing controlled blasts from the mine site. "When it hits, it feels like an earthquake. On Friday, I thought my whole house was going to go into the ground. That's how bad it was," said Joanie MacRae, a resident of Point Aconi Road. - More...

Hide & Seek

While no one dares publicly mention what they're really doing at Point Aconi, CASM risks security cameras and security dogs and security guards and police threatening us with arrest for tresspassing to let everyone see and judge for themselves in our occasional photographic Status Reports

9 August 2008
View CASM’s Before & After Slideshow to the Bras d’Or Stewardship Society on YouTube.

Show & Tell

Print your own flyer
(Select File, Print, Landscape)

24 June 2008 - Along with other environmental groups, CASM attended a meeting in Halifax with Natural Resources Minister David Morse, Deputy Minister Peter Underwood, Scott Swindon and several other DNR staff.

View DNR's presentation
View CASM's presentation
Experience DNR's Bonding Process
Go! See for yourself

14 April 2008 - CASM held a public meeting to inform the public of what to expect in their back yards soon if Nova Scotia's minority Conservative government continues with such destruction based on deceit and a flawed Environment Act. View presentation of our experience so far.

January 16, 2008
Municipality to push province for strip mining review
SYDNEY - An anti-strip mining group convinced Cape Breton Regional council Tuesday night to put pressure on the provincial government to request a full independent review of the province's, decision to enter into an agreement with Pioneer Coal Ltd. to strip mine on Boularderie Island.

September 22, 2007
Mainland group joins strip mine protest
POINT ACONI - Several groups protesting the burning of coal and the strip mines which produces the fossil fuel gathered for an information session Friday at the entrance to Nova Scotia's power plant in Point Aconi.

September 22, 2007
Marchers protest strip mine
POINT ACONI — A parrot named Noah didn’t say it, nor did about 50 protesters who showed up at the gates of Nova Scotia Power’s Point Aconi plant Friday.

But there was plenty of standing around and friendly banter among those who held the signs reading Stop Strip Mining, a message Noah just refused to repeat.

YouTube video

July 3, 2007
Protesters urge N.S. environment minister to stop Cape Breton strip mine
Port Aconi, N.S. (CP) - Nova Scotia Environment Minister Mark Parent's visit Tuesday to a local power station attracted a group of protesters opposed to a strip mine on Cape Breton's Boularderie Island.

December 20, 2006
Council approves strip mining amendment
SYDNEY - To no surprise, councillors in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality approved an amendment to the municipal planning strategy that could require companies to obtain a development permit in order to strip mine in parts of the municipality.

In a swift pre-Christmas council meeting Tuesday, councillors passed the amendment 15-0 with councillors Vince Hall and Frank Morrison away an business.

Friday, November 3, 2006
MP calls for environmental assessment
POINT ACONI - Sydney-Victoria MP Mark Eyking is calling on federal Environment Minister Rona Ambrose to conduct an environmental assessment of the proposed strip mining operation on Boularderie Island.

October 17, 2006
CBRM council holds meeting on strip mines
SYDNEY — The Cape Breton Regional Municipality held a special meeting Monday as it attempts to grapple with a strip mine land-use bylaw.

September 13, 2006
Pioneer Coal gets approval for surface mining at Prince
Point Aconi - Boularderie Island residents appetite for another strip mine operation will be tested again.

Environment and Labour has signed off on the industrial approval, the final stage in the assessment process allowing Pioneer Coal of Antigonish to strip mine for near surface coal around the former Prince mine.

June 9, 2006
Native elders offer to help strip mining opponents
During a press conference in Point Aconi, Thursday, native elders threw their suppprt behind CASM in the fight against strip mining on Boularderie Island. This support could possibly include an injunction to stop the project.

May 21, 2006
Brison rallies with strip mine opponents
Federal Liberal leadership candidate Scott Brison visited Cape Breton on Saturday, attending a rally in North Sydney and visiting some former strip mine sites.

May 18, 2006
Concerns of strip mining opponents are being addressed, says premier
Premier Rodney MacDonald said in an interview with the Cape Breton Post, Wednesday, that he has taken a number of steps to address concerns raised by people who don't want strip mining on Cape Breton.

May 10, 2006
Battle over strip mines comes to legislature
Protesters holding signs, wearing pins and handing out pamphlets gathered outside Province House in Halifax on Tuesday to protest strip mining in Cape Breton.

April 28, 2006
Province setting up expert panel on mining
BADDECK — The province will establish a scientific research program to study surface mining sites and land reclamation.

April 26, 2006
NDP leader disappointed with Tories on strip mining
NDP Leader Darrell Dexter is disappointed by the MacDonald government's continued refusal to listen to Cape Breton communities who do not want to see strip mining on the island.

In a release Tuesday, Dexter said that with Conservatives holding their caucus meeting in Baddeck later this week, he expects them to use the opportunity to see for themselves why there is widespread support for a complete moratorium on strip mining in Cape Breton, and to realize that they can no longer avoid the issue.

April 26, 2006
Lobster fishers blame strip mine for falling stocks
LITTLE POND - More than 100 opponents of strip mining from across Cape Breton joined local fishermen, Tuesday, to protest the application by Cape Crushing for a permit to extract about 5,500 tonnes of coal from the Merritt Point site in Little Pond.

April 4, 2006
NDP MLA Frank Corbett says that he is disappointed by the MacDonald government’s continued refusal to listen to Cape Breton communities who do not want to see strip mining on the Island.

“Yesterday’s announcement didn’t fix anything,” says Corbett. “A pause is no solution.”

March 9, 2006
Dexter calls on MacDonald to meet wih CASM
Halifax - Opposition Leader Darrell Dexter has written Premier Rodney MacDonald to ask him to meet with the Cape Breton group the Citizens Against Strip Mining as soon as possible.

March 8, 2006
Eyking calls on MacDonald to meet with CASM
As Member of Parliament I have agreed to be part of a delegation, including elected and non-elected community representatives that would travel to Halifax to meet with members of your Government. I request that this delegation be afforded an opportunity to meet with cabinet, to rationally discuss the issues of proposed strip mining on Boularderie Island.

February 17, 2006
Morgan wants review of strip mine sites
Mayor John Morgan is calling on the federal environment minister to conduct a full panel review of proposed strip mine sites in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality before development of those properties can begin.

January 27, 2006
Historic meeting at Point Aconi Hall
Cecil Clarke and other area representatives from municipal, provincial and federal governments met with concerned citizens to formulate a plan of action to stop strip mining Cape Breton.

January 24, 2006
CBRM council votes to fight province's strip mining proposals
Council members of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality voted 14 to 1 to pass a motion by Wes Stubbert that "the Council request a By-Law to be enacted to protect water supply, agriculture and fishing industries from the ravages of strip coal mining."

January 5, 2006
Opposition to strip mining loud and clear at Millville public meeting
Cape Breton Post
If last night's meeting at the Millville Community Centre is any indication, citizens and politicians alike appear to be united in their opposition to strip mining on Boularderie Island or in any other site designated for strip mining in Cape Breton.

December 29, 2005
Pioneer Coal gets conditional go-ahead to open surface mine
A proposed surface coal mine for Point Aconi, Cape Breton, that has sparked protests and outrage from area residents got conditional approval from the province this week.

"The people I represent are totally against strip mining"
- Gordon MacLeod, CBRM Councillor

"It's courting disaster to consider allowing strip mines in areas that contain drinking water"
- Tom Wilson, CBRM Councillor

"Boularderie Island is the central horticultural zone for Cape Breton Island and has to be protected from any type of strip mining operation."
- Chris Eyking, Bras d'Or Producers Co-op.

"Given the environmental mess they leave and damage they cause to the land and the watertable it is just not needed."
- Ralph Treholm, Lobster fisherman

"Stripmining can cause the loss of these resources, putting many more people out of work than stripmining can employ."
- Russell MacDonald, Citizen against strip mining

"You try to understand why it is someone would put at risk what is so obviously an attractive way of life, an asset for the tourism industry, an asset for the agricultural industry - for what would essentially be very short-term gain."
- Darrell Dexter, NDP Leader

There's something terribly wrong when this parrot knows more about what's realy happening at Point Aconi than the people of Nova Scotia are allowed to know. Noah has seen with his own eyes what the government and the coal company and the power company and the media aren't telling anyone and don't want the public to know.

Next to prime fishing grounds at the mouth of the Bras d'Or Lakes, with the Bird Islands and the Cabot Trail and Cape Smokey in the background, Premier Rodney MacDonald's government has turned a deaf ear to the community's concerns and a blind eye to environmental problems, and has begun strip mining coastal Crown woodlands and wetlands for some very high polluting coal that wasn't fit to burn before, and has begun burning it at the province's highest polluting generating station at Lingan without any expensive "clean coal technolgy".

This is being done under the false pretext of "cleaning up" past mining in Point Aconi, and is being done as quickly as possible "because future reductions in SO2 emission levels and the economics of the project will be negatively impacted to the point of not being feasible."

View of Point Aconi, Boularderie Island from the Bras d'Or Lookoff on Kelly's Mountain

The Environment Act and the Terms and Conditions for Approval have been thrown out the window as Pioneer Coal thoroughly detroys our coastal Crown woodlands and wetlands threatening our fishing grounds, our water supply, our nearby farms, our tourism industry, our real estate, our quality of life, and the legacy we leave for future generations.

This is being done under a cloud of secrecy and no publicity. No one came to cut a ribbon or preach the benefits of strip mining high polluting coal from coastal Crown land, or take a tour of the site and show the public what they're doing under the pretext of "cleaning up" Devco's old Prince Mine, while the government approved "Community Liaison Committee" has proven itself to be merely a mouthpiece for government sanctioned disinformation.

Under the NS Environment Act, the area's concerned Citizens Against Strip Mining on Boularderie Island launched an appeal of the Minister's approval of this project to the NS Supreme Court but the Department of Justice is stonewalling while their Access to Information Officer is stalling release of reports that ought to be public.

Meanwhile, the strip mine is proceeding but not at all according to the approved plan. As but one example, in recent weeks water has filled any excavation of the coastal wetlands faster than they can dig it, instead of pumping the water into the undergound workings as required by NSEL's Approval, they're pumping it in the opposite direction to a huge lake that is quickly forming just metres from the shore.

As destruction of our coastal Crown lands continues, the exposure of the excavated high sulphide bearing material to air and water is already causing Acid Mine Drainage (aka "orange precipitate") to be discharged into our fishing grounds via a brook that NSEL did not know about despite the 4 foot NSDNR Crown stake next to it, while the various provincial and federal departments are passing the buck between each other and the homes of local residents are shaking from the blasts.

Nova Scotia's Department of Environment says it's the federal department of Fisheries and Ocean's responsibility, DFO says it's Environment Canada's responsibility, Environment Canada says its Natural Resource's responsibility, NRCAN says it's Devco's, but since Devco sold the Prince Mine to Pioneer Coal just days before it became subject to federal environmental assessment, it's not their reponsibillity any more either!

The Provincial government ministers all kept their blinders so firmly glued to their faces that they didn't even ask for a copy of the federal 2004 report on the Prince Mine until long after issuing their approval to Pioneer Coal's strip mine, and only then because CASM filed for a Section 115 investigation under the Environment Act..

Got a wetland or coastal brook or toxic materials in the way of getting approval for your project? No problem, just don't mention them under the government's don't tell, don't ask process of environmental assessment and industrial approval, even their site Inspectors and Conservation Officers won't notice the obvious.

In 2001, Devco closed the last of its mines, the Prince Mine at Point Aconi, in part because the high sulphur coal wasn't even fit to burn in the new Point Aconi generating plant built next door. In 2003 the mineral rights to the coal on Devco properties across the region were transferred to the province. The province then issued a call for proposals from mining companies for the "exploration, development and reclamation" of 4 million tons of the Sydney coalfield that may be extracted by strip mining.

Locations of the "surface" coal resources proposed for strip-mining in just this first of four planned tender calls include 29,000 acres of Boularderie Island, Point Aconi, the Bras d'Or Lakes, New Waterford, Gardiner Mines, Dominion, Donkin, Birch Grove, Port Morien and Broughton, according to the government's maps, over 14 sites in total.

Before any environmental assesment had been done, the MLA for the area and then Minister of Energy Cecil Clarke held a pubic meeting during which the public was told that "no is not an option". Pioneer Coal's proposal to strip-mine 1.6 million tons of coal over a 7 year period near the old Prince Mine in Point Aconi was approved with "conditions" despite opposition from 76% of residents polled in a municipal survey and all the region's elected representatives and candidates from all levels of government and political parties and First Nations.

Strip mining in a wetland requires draining millions of gallons of water from the surrounding area. Many of the sites are close to water reservoirs and sensitive wetland areas.

The Boularderie area proposed for strip mining acts as a large sponge that supplies water to Upper and Lower Morien aquifer. Loss of this water source will impact domestic wells throughout the area and nearby large scale farming operations that work some of the richest agricultural land in Cape Breton, and on a very lucrative fishing industry off the coast and salmon river and eagle habitats inland. Being the tip of an island on the Atlantic Ocean, the hydrological effects of strip mning also cause salt water intrusion.

Imagine what the view from the Bras d'Or lookoff will look like once it's been strip mined! Will tourists want to venture beyond the Seal Island Bridge? Will homecomers still want to retire here? Will there be any possibility for other economic development for many years to come?

Before strip-mining: After strip-mining:

This is what the Province wants to do to Cape Breton Island from Point Aconi to Port Morien if we don't stop it: Stellarton

If anyone can find a shred of vegetation growing on this "reclaimed" site, send us a photo!

Detailed map of Boularderie Island coal resource blocks outlined in the government's Call for Proposals to "surface" mine and "reclaim"

View Photos of strip mining in CBRM

April 6, 2006
MacDonald first in votes, last in donations

Premier Rodney MacDonald was his own biggest supporter in his bid to lead the provincial Conservative party. MacDonald donated $10,000 of his own money to his campaign, according to documents released Thursday by the three leadership candidates.

Antigonish-based Nova Construction, which builds roads and strip mines, was MacDonald's largest corporate donor. The company gave him $7,500, but also gave $2,500 to LeBlanc.

(Nova Construction=John Chisholm=Pioneer Coal Ltd.)

Sunday, June 4th, 2006
on CBC
Land and Sea
Strip Mining

Nova Scotians have been mining coal for three hundred years and now the provincial government hopes to revive it. It wants to do this not just for the energy but to clean up what it considers a dangerous mess left by previous underground mining. According to the government, past mining efforts left us with public hazards from holes and waste rock piles and it sees surface mining or strip mining as the best way to fix this. But Cape Bretoners are not strangers to their own legacy of strip mining and they didn't like the experience so the government's plan is running into a lot of opposition.

June 13th, 2006
Nova Scotia Provincial Election
Survey of candidates in ridings to be strip mined

Contact Card

And the sweat on the back is no joy to behold in the heat of the steel plant or mining the coal. And the foreign owned companies force us to fight for our survival, and for our rights.

We are an Island, a rock in a stream. We are a people, as proud as there's been. In soft summer breeze, or in wild winter wind The home of our hearts, Cape Breton... - The Island

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Revised: 08/27/17 08:06:37.