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Rodney's Caper Coverup continues

22 December 2008 - This latest episode of Nova Scotia's Environment Department in action began in August when a Cape Bretoner who's been away returned to his retirement dream home only to find that the brook through his property has turned orange. The source of the problem was photographed and mapped and hand delivered to the Environment Department on August 14th 2008 in a formal Application for Investigation pursuant to Section 115 of the Environment Act. NSE's Monitoring & Compliance Inspector Brad Langille refused to accept the application and told the landowner to get his own water samples and test results and get his Application for Investigation signed by a Commissioner of Oaths, but the landowner did not have the time to do the Inspector's job for him. Upon inquiry, Inspector Langille would not confirm whether or not he had inspected Coal Hollow Brook and taken samples himself. So CASM borrowed a professional grade water probe and tested and photographed the brook again and filed another Application for Investigation under the Environment Act on September 26th 2008. While preparing the Section 115 Application, CASM inspected the mine site and submitted photographs of additional items for investigation in the application. Below is the Environment Department's response to the public's concerns about what we can see and feel happening at Rodney's "reclamation" of his "flagship" site at Point Aconi the "environmentally right way".
CASM's response to the Inspector's report is in RED. Minister Mark Parent is invited to answer the obvious questions raised by his failure to protect our environment and persistent failure to monitor the predictable adverse effects for compliance:


NOVA SCOTIA
Environment
PO Box 714
Sydney, Nova Scotia B1P 6H7
Tel.: (902) 563-2100

Environmental Monitoring and Compliance Division
file No: 2006-05 1995

December 22, 2008

Re: Application For An Investigation pursuant to Section 115 of the Environment Act: Pioneer Coal Limited Surface Mine and Reclamation Project, Point Aconi.

At the request of Mark Farrell, District Manger of the Sydney Regional Office, to follow is a response to your Application For An Investigation pursuant to Section 115 of the Environment Act regarding the Pioneer Coal Limited (PCL) Surface Mine and Reclamation Project, Point Aconi (2006-051995). This application was signed and received by Nova Scotia Environment, September 26, 2008. A Solemn Declaration witnessed by a Commissioner of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia was submitted with the application.

On September 26, 2008, correspondence acknowledging receipt of the Application For An Investigation was mailed to your residence. A copy of the correspondence is attached as Appendix "A".

In your Section 115 Application for An Investigation, the allegations and statements as submitted and the evidence presented did not provide the reviewer with a clear understanding of the application. As a result of this, on October 29, 2008 you were interviewed at the Nova Scotia Environment office at 295 Charlotte Street, Sydney, for the purpose of seeking further clarification. Throughout this response, where required, I will be referencing this interview. On October 29, 2008, upon conclusion of the interview a photocopy of the interview was provided to you.

In a brief background summary, Pioneer Coal Limited (PCL) was subject to the standard assessment process as prescribed in Nova Scotia's Environment Act. PCL completed an Environmental Assessment and was granted an Industrial Approval to operate. The Environmental Assessment was approved December 28, 2005 and the Industrial Approval was subsequently issued September 12, 2006.

Page 1 of 14
Your Application for Investigation alleges that Pioneer Coal Limited has contravened multiple items relating to the Environment Act. The body of the application for investigation was in paragraph ,form with a mix of background information, general statements and direct/indirect allegations. Throughout this response, I will be referring to identified allegations and statements that you stated in the September 26, 2008 application and subsequent interview on October 29, 2008.

Please be advised, items that relate to the present appeal process you are part of will not be addressed in this report nor will previous Section 115 responses and items that are not under the control of Pioneer Coal Limited such as questions relating to Provincial or Departmental policies. Wildlife questions should be posed to Nova Scotia Natural Resources.

Based on the October 29, 2008 interview with you and subsequent emails, NSE is aware that you had not taken the photos that were submitted with the application. When requested, you would not provide the name of the individual(s) who/whom took the pictures. When requested, you also declined to provide the department with a level of confidence to indicate whether or not you were present, while the pictures were taken, particularly for pictures with a sole purpose of proving an allegation of noncompliance. In review of the October 29, 2008 interview there were instances where the only detail you could provide regarding an allegation was based on the photos provided.

For future consideration, for information to be used as evidence, the information must be collected and presented by first hand parties. Please be advised, the photos as submitted will be reviewed at face value only.


Environment's Inspector Brad Langille has been monitoring and inspecting Pioneer Coal's Prince Mine site at least twice a week for over two years now. There's nothing in any of the photographs that the Inspector couldn't have seen for himself and collected his own "first hand" evidence of. Two eye witnesses met with the Inspector for over an hour but there was no allowance for any discussion during the "witness format" meeting. His very first question was who took the photos but he never asked if there were other witnesses he could speak to if necessary. If Inspector Langille did not get sufficient detail it's purely because he didn't ask the right questions at the interview and the other eye witness present was not allowed to speak! NSE's Inspector has the powers of a Police Officer to issue an injunction to bar the public from the mine site. When the Inspector declined to explain why he needed to know who took the photos, CASM exercised our democratic right to decline to respond to the irrelevant question, and the Inspector had no further questions about the photographic evidence submitted.

Members of CASM's committee are well known to all the various powers that be including Pioneer's staff and the Police who they've called out several times complaining of a bunch of people walking around the mine site taking photographs and posting them on a website, in as timely a manner as possible for over two years now. Pioneer Coal is required to pay the cost for NSE's Monitoring and Compliance Inspector, this project is his full time job. There's no excuse for the Inspector's persistent failure to observe first hand what everyone else can see for themselves at the Prince Mine site, and there's no excuse for his lack of respect for our integrity to the best of our knowledge.


For an effective response to a complaint, prompt reporting is vital as these events are very time sensitive. Reviewing the event at the time of the alleged incident can greatly improve the opportunity for the department to identify the exact source or contributing sources of the alleged incident. In particular, this applies to concerns raised within the application concerning, sound, dust, siltation and site discharging of liquid. You had indicated during the October 29, 2008 interview that rather than notifying the Department at the time of receiving dust, sound and site discharge complaints they were compiled over time and submitted via this Section 115 Application for Investigation. With respect to the siltation concern raised, according to the date on the photo, 15 days past before you notified this office, via this Section 115 Application for Investigation. NSE encourages and invites any resident who feels they may be negatively impacted by the operation to contact NSE directly in a timely manner.


If you still believe that NSE is in the business of protecting our environment instead of the mining company, and don't mind being treated like you're the criminal, call:


For your convenience, a copy of the application for investigation excluding the photos is attached as "Appendix B". (For easy reference, CASM has included the photos on this web page.)

To follow is a response to you Section 115 Application for Investigation:

Page 2 of 14

Sulphide Bearinq Material Disposal Requlations

Statement:

"Documented test results show that Acid Producing Potential of the coal Hub Seam at the Prince Mine site is as high as 175.59 kg of H2S02/t. The limit under Nova Scotia's Sulphide Bearing Material Disposal Regulations is 12.51 kg of H2S02/t."

NSE Response to Statement:

The Sulphide Bearing Material Disposal Regulations do not apply to mining activities that are under approval or otherwise permitted by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The coal being removed from the site is intended to be sold, not disposed of. The site does not accept sulphide bearing material from other sites and residual sulphide bearing material that is encountered on the site other than coal is managed inhouse according to standard industry practices.


This is the exact opposite to what the Environment Department said last year when specifically asked if the Sulphide Bearing Material Disposal Regulations apply to Pioneer Coal's project and they said "Yes". Where is the "yellow stained dirt band of sulphur content" being disposed? Evidently the acceptable "standard industry practice" is to ignore the regulations and NSE won't enforce them. What other mining activities are still regulated by DNR's loopholes that render the Environment Act a meaningless document?


Surface Water

Statement:

"Between the mine portals and the water pumping station Pioneer Coal has excavated a pit that has filled with obvious evidence of Acid Mine Drainage."

NSE Response to Statement:

The presence of pooling water within the site and open excavation(s), regardless of pH value is not a compliance issue. PCL is restricted from discharging to areas other than what is identified within Schedule E of the Approval.


Contrary to the Inspector's claim, "prevention of acid rock drainage" is indeed a compliance issue under the department's Guide for Surface Coal Mine Reclamation Plans that Pioneer is required to adhere to according to Schedule L(b) of NSE's Industrial Approval. After this Application for Investigation was filed the obvious Acid Mine Drainage in the pit has been covered up with limestone and topsoil. If nothing was wrong with the "pooling water" then why fix it, and only after the public formally complained? Schedule E requires the water to be pumped "to the Prince Mine workings or to the existing Settling Ponds for treatment as required prior to discharge". Where does the "pooling water" in the pit discharge to? Where do the underground workings discharge to? Where do the settling ponds discharge to? Are the discharges within the "stringent" limits as required?


Allegation:

"Last spring ...started receiving complaints from area residents that Pioneer Coal was discharging water during the night from the pump house into Coal Hollow Brook. "

NSE Response to Allegation:

Within your application, other than photos of Coal Hollow Brook, you did not provide further evidence to support the allegation that PCL was discharging to Coal Hollow Brook


What further evidence must the public provide for NSE's Monitoring and Compliance Inspector to monitor and inspect discharges into the brook for compliance? In the middle of the intersection of the Prince Mine and Point Aconi Roads there's a drain between the pumphouse and the underground culvert to Coal Hollow Brook, if you stand there you can hear the water flowing. Both Pioneer and the Environment Department were supposed to be monitoring this brook all along so the Inspector should be able to provide his own first hand scientific evidence that is not available to the public. Was the brook being monitored as required? Does the monitoring data show any changes in the water flow?


With respect to Coal Hollow Brook, as taken from the Environmental Assessment, "east of the five existing entrances to the underground mine (portals), surface water enters bootleg pits, drains into the Water Level Tunnel and gathers at the water pumping station and then directed into the Prince Mine underground workings. This series of bootleg mining pits and the Water Level Tunnel to the east of the Prince Mine will be removed. This will eliminate the pumping station requirement, such that surface water can be directed into the Prince Mine workings by way of a pit floor sump and pumping system. The work will be carried out before the expected time frame for the Prince Mine workings to reach capacity."

By original design liquid could discharge from the existing/present pumphouse sump to Coal Hollow Brook through a overflow pipe in the pumphouse via an underground culvert.


So the Water Level Tunnel east of the portals and the excavated pit is connected to the pumphouse, and the pumphouse is connected to the culvert at Coal Hollow Brook. Environment's Inspector fails to mention that the liquid that's supposedly being pumped into the underground workings "is highly acidic and cannot be discharged into the environment untreated". He also fails to mention that mining was stopped in what was supposed to be Excavation #1 over a year ago, why? What is the expected time frame for the Prince Mine workings to reach capacity, then what?


Upon acquisition of the property, PCL has continued to maintain the pumphouse equipment to enable water entering the sump to be directed to the former Prince Mine portals. Records of maintenance have been provided to the department.

NSE attempted to determine if the pumphouse sump overflow was the source contributing to the occurrence in Coal Hollow Brook. Tracer dye was placed in the sump hole on 4 different occasions and no dye was observed in Coal Hollow Brook. A water sample was submitted to a lab to determine if dye was present but not visible to the eye, no dye was detected. Thus any discharge into Coal Hollow Brook does not appear to have come from the pumphouse overflow.

Since issuance of the Industrial Approval, the Department has not observed PCL discharging water via the pumphouse to Coal Hollow Brook.


When did NSE attempt to determine if the discharge into Coal Hollow Brook was coming from the pumphouse, before or after the maintenance was done? If the discharge from the culvert isn't coming from the pump house then where is it coming from? Where else do the underground workings go that NSE's Inspector does not know about unless the public monitors and inspects the site themselves and submits their own evidence? Did Inspector Langille take water samples from the brook, if so when, and what were the results?


A review of historic photographs shows a history of coal extraction in the area of the former Prince Mine and Coal Hollow Brook. These photos date back over a span of 60 years, and it is conclusive that both bootleg and commercial mining have been very active in the immediate surrounding area.

Although PCL's pumphouse does not appear to be contributing to the occurrence in Coal Hollow Brook, NSE will continue the review of this separate matter.


Local residents have first hand knowledge of coal mining in the area going back hundreds of years, and Devco has decades of scientific monitoring data. Why did NSE fail to review the "complex" hydrogeology of this area prior to issuing its approval for this project, and not until the public formally applied for an investigation of the obvious adverse effects?


NSE and the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Environment Canada are collaborating and assisting each other with reviewing and monitoring the situation at Coal Hollow Brook. Information gathered has been shared with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Environment Canada regarding the occurrence in Coal Hollow Brook as these agencies may be the more appropriate regulatory agencies to deal with this matter from an "adverse effect" perspective.


Why has NSE's Inspector done nothing whatsoever to prevent the adverse effect of discharging mine water into Coal Hollow Brook as granted by the Approval? Why did he not even know about it until the public formally complained? Why do they still not know what the problem is or what to do about it or even who's responsible? And why isn't Environment's Inspector collaborating and sharing information with Devco who's about to start "remediation" of the property between the pumphouse and the culvert on Pioneer's strip? What does Devco's data on the brook show, does it corroborate NSE's findings?


NSE will provide you with an update as additional information becomes available throughout the review of this matter.

Page 4 of 14
Allegation (Coal Hollow Brook continued):

"A month later, there is visual evidence of lime being added to the brook to neutralize it, and Pioneer has installed a new pipeline along the backyards of Forrest Lane from the pump house to above the portals."

Within your application further evidence was not provided to support your allegation that PCL added lime to the watercourse. NSE has not observed anyone placing lime in this watercourse.


A month after the initial complaint that Coal Hollow Brook had turned orange it turned milky white. During this time, Inspector Langille should have been monitoring and testing the brook himself and gathering his own first hand evidence from his investigation. If it's not lime then what is it, aluminum, tracer dye? Where did it suddenly come from? What has NSE done to prevent any further contamination downstream? At this rate of coverup and denial by NSE, what's going to happen when Rodney lifts his reclamation moratorium on the other sites across the region?


Community Liaison Committee

Allegation:

"Pioneer Coal has not ensured that the Terms & Conditions of the Environmental Assessment Approval issued December 28, 2005 under Part IV of the Environment Act are adhered to. For example, posted minutes of the Community Liason Committee indicate that it has not met since 19 March 2007 and clearly has not established any forum for dialogue fo the public's concerns. Pioneer Coal has done nothing to keep the public informed of the details of the project as required. "

NSE Response to Allegation:

Prior to issuing the Industrial Approval to PCL, all terms and conditions of the December 28, 2005 EA release were addressed to the satisfaction of the department.

The latest posted minutes for the CLC are July 2008, while the CLC can be contacted at 563-4011.


Environment's Inspector neglects to mention that the minutes of the July 2008 meeting were not posted until after this Application for Investgation was filed in September, and it's not the first time it's taken a public complaint to get them to do that much. Evidently it is to the Environment Department's satisfaction that the Community Liaison Committee is anonymous, and having a phone number passes as being a forum for dialogue of the public's concerns and keeping us informed of the details of the project.


Allegation:

"The anonymous Citizens Liaison Committee has not met since 19 March 2007, there have been no public information sessions or any public consultation or community involvement whatsoever, the requirements for a reclamation plan have not been submitted while the CLC has publicly refused to meet with the community or our elected representatives. (CLC letter attached)"

NSE Response to Allegation:

Everyone has access to the Community Liaison Committee. The Chairman of the committee is Darryl Pike and he can be contacted through the CLC hotline at 563-4011. The Chairman and the committee will consider any community member's reasonable request for information or discussion. The latest minutes posted is July 2008.


Does this mean that the anonymous CLC has had a change of heart, along with a change of Chairman, and is now willing to meet with the public and our representatives as required by the CLC's mandate to establish a forum for dialogue of the public's concerns? If so, why don't they call a public meeting with Pioneer and NSE and DNR and Transportation and DFO and Environment Canada and Devco present to answer questions and get the facts straight, and to enable any meaningful discussion as required by the Terms and Conditions of Approval?


Page 5 of 14
General Terms and Conditions

Allegation:

"Extensions or modifications of the Facility, including the active area, process changes, waste disposal practices, which were not granted under the Approval have not been subject to the Environment Assessment Regulations or public consultation. For example, the stockpiling and processing of coal, the disposal of sulfide bearing materials and other toxic substances at the Prince Mine site. (Photos 21, 22, 23, 24)"

NSE Response to allegation:

Mechanical crushing, screening and sorting coal is an industry standard practice expected for any coal mine. PCL is in the process of constructing a method to improve it's coal handling practices at this site. Stockpiled coal is contained inside the former DEVCO main shop, the remainder of coal to the exterior of the building is coal awaiting mechanical crushing, screening or sorting.



So there's no environmental regulations for the stockpiling and processing of coal in Nova Scotia? And by the Inspector's definition that's not a stockpile of coal everyone can see from the front fence so the inevitable dust and runoff are of no concern to him? If there is nothing wrong with it then why is Pioneer "constructing a method to improve it's coal handling practices at this site"? What will it sound like?


The small mechanical screener identified in Photo 23, behind the main shop, is not property owned or operated by PCL. This is a third party contractor who is authorized by PCL to conduct it's business on that portion of the property. The third party contractor is not required to obtain an approval to conduct this.


Yet another loophole using third party contractors to circumvent the environmental regulations. During the time frame of this investigation, NSE's Inspector also disavowed any responsibility for a third party strip mining top soil and removing it from the "reclamation" project under DNR's two hectare loophole, endangering public safety in the process. It took a professional Vehicle Compliance Officer to do what NSE's amateur Monitoring and Compliance Inspector won't do, and never even notices unless the public photographs and reports it for him. Since the departments Regional Managers couldn't even find the road through the mine site that they closed last year, can they find the restoration bond Pioneer had supposedly paid at the time? Why wasn't this stopped before the predictabe damage was done to the public road across Morrison Pond and surrounding wetlands? What would have happened if the public hadn't protested?


Sulfide bearing materials has been discussed previously in this response (see page 3).

No evidence was provided to the department to support the allegation that "toxic substances" are being disposed at the site. In review of inspections of the site, NSE has not observed any situation as alleged.


Environment's Inspector neglects to mention that the Department failed to review Devco's 2004 environmental assessment that contains a long list of toxic substances that many local residents saw for themselves being buried at the Prince Mine at the time. If the toxic substances are not being disposed of at the site where are they being disposed? What further evidence must the public provide for NSE's Inspector to investigate such activities at the "clean up" of Devco's old Prince Mine?


Allegation:

"Pioneer Coal has not immediately notified the Department of any incidents of noncompliance with the Approval. For example, destruction of a wetland, discharges into MacDonald Morrison Brook, Coal Hollow Brook, the unmapped brook from the DNR Crown land, the brooks behind the stockpile flowing into Brogan's old strip mine, etc. (Photos 25, 26, 27)

NSE Response to allegation:

As noted in the October 29, 2008 interview, the disruption of a wetland you are referring to was the wetland that was disrupted by PCL during the initial construction of the their haul road (winter 2007). This matter has already been investigated and addressed to the satisfaction of the department.


Inspector Langille neglects to mention that he failed to identify the wetland during his twice weekly inspections and Pioneer failed to report it as required, and it took an Application for Investigation from the public for NSE to address the matter. What was the "haul road" constructed out of, where is it now?


Page 6 of 14

With respect to MacDonald/Morrison Brook to date, throughout the monitoring of this site, the Department has not observed nor has evidence been provided to the department identifying that PCL is discharging the settling pond water into this watercourse.


If the Inspector never observed the obvious discharge from the culvert into MacDonald/ Morrison Brook then either he refused to look or he has no credibility whatsoever. If the discharge wasn't coming from the settling ponds where was it coming from? And if there was nothing wrong with it, as NSE's Executive Director claimed, then why have they sealed off the culvert and cleaned up the brook? What would have happened if the concerned public hadn't done the Environment Inspector's job for him? Where is the settling pond water being discharged to now that the culvert has been removed? What else is NSE covering up hoping no one will notice?


With respect to Coal Hollow Brook, please refer to the earlier response (see page 3).

Within your application further evidence was not provided to support your allegation that PCL was discharging to the unnamed watercourse that formerly lead from the 7.3 ha wetland. In review of inspections of the site, NSE has not observed the situation as alleged.


Incredibly, yet again NSE's Inspector failed to observe discharges from the mine site after the public photographed and reported the evidence and took the area's MP to see it and he called DFO when the Inspector wouldn't. What further evidence does NSE's Inspector need to investigate predictable discharges from the mine site and gather his own evidence in a timely manner? Does the Inspector ever inspect any of the watercourses flowing from the mine site, especially after heavy rains like the local residents have the common sense to do? What do the aerial photographs taken two days later show? What does the data from the monitoring well next to the DNR Crown stake show? If there's nothing wrong with it why doesn't the Inspector say so?



With respect to Photo 27, labeled wetland, which shows water pooling in an area, has been reviewed by both NSE and DNR. It is concluded that the feature in Photo 27 is not considered a wetland. This is a grubbed off area with pooling water that is presently a buffer between the stockpile and site boundary.


Evidently the Inspector failed to observe that this "grubbed off" "buffer" is along the northern property line between the mapped wetlands and the shore and was previously photographed and reported to him over a year ago. Since this Application for Investigation was filed in September a ditch has been dug to drain the water into the pit. If there was nothing wrong with it why did they do something about it after the public asked for an Investigation?


While reviewing a separate area outside of Photo 27, a small portion of land adjacent to the site boundary has been identified to contain wetland features. Directly inside the site boundary a small pool of water was observed. With respect to this particular area, NSE and DNR are continuing to collaborate and assist each other in reviewing this matter. NSE and DNR must determine if the area containing the small pool of water was consistent with the adjacent off site area containing wetland features prior to ground disturbance.

NSE will provide you with an update as additional information becomes available throughout the review of this matter.


Small pools of water can be observed all over the site, it's taken two years for Evironment's Inspector to finally observe one that he can't ignore, and apparently only because DNR was with him. What else does NSE's Inspector not notice about DNR's Crown land unless the public files an Application for Investigation?


With respect to Photo 20, dated March 8, 2008, which shows water exiting a watercourse on a private parcel of land to the ocean, you have not provided further evidence to support the allegation that PCL is discharging site water via this watercourse to the ocean. Inspections of the area in the range of the date identified do not indicate failure of the erosion and sedimentation controls PCL had in place.


Why didn't Inspector Langille observe this predictable discharge into the ocean after heavy rains and the photo was sent to him and posted on this public website, did he wait until his scheduled inspection date to go and look? What further evidence must the public provide for NSE to monitor and inspect the site for compliance in a timely manner and gather his own first hand evidence? Is he insinuating that what even the area's MP saw with his own eyes is a figment of his imagination and Photo 20 is fake? That there was still no evidence of failure of the erosion and sedimentation controls a month later?


Photo 26 has been omitted for reasons expressed in the opening of the report (see page 2). Photo 26 alleges that PCL is discharging water to an adjacent property. Other than the photo, no additional detail to support the allegation that PCL is discharging water to this property was provided to department. Inspections of the area where Photo 26 was taken does not indicate that material from PCL is discharging to this surface water area.


If the excess water overflowing the pond on neighboring private property isn't coming from the mine site then where is it coming from, and where is all the siltation coming from? What additional detail does the Inspector need to investigate the situation, or does the public have to do it for him?

View of Brogan's property from Pioneer's stockpile, 6 APR 08


Page 7 of 14
Construction of Facility

Allegation:

"Visual inspection shows that all erosion and sedimentation controls were not in place prior to construction at this Facility and still aren't. (Photo 28)"

NSE Response to allegation:

The area in Photo 28, showing a close up of water pooling, was viewed and is within the footprint of PCL and within land leased by PCL. No further evidence was provided with your application to support the allegation that necessary erosion and sedimentation controls are not in place. As part of scheduled inspections, NSE reviews site erosion and sedimentation controls.



Are the necessary erosion and sedimentation controls in place, if so where's the evidence?


Allegation:

"Pioneer Coal has not ensured that all site water, surface drainage and excavation pumping is managed as described in the "Industrial Approval Application Supporting Document". For example, visual inspection of the site shows that water from the active pit is not being pumped to the Prince Mine workings or Settling Ponds for treatment as required prior to discharge, the riparian buffer to a watercourse is less than 30 meters, sedimentation control fencing has not been placed at the edge of disturbed areas, a rock lined perimeter ditch has not been constructed around the active work areas, etc. (Photos 29, 30, 31, 32)

NSE Response to allegation:

The facility is operating within it's delineated boundaries. The Approval does not identify a separation distance to a watercourse.


Contrary to the Inspector's claims, Schedule A(d) of NSE's Industrial Approval requires all site water to be managed as described in Pioneer's "Industrial Approval Application Supporting Document" - Section 4, which states that there will be a "Riparian buffer to a watercourse (minimum of 30 metres)". The Inspector also neglects to mention that the Environment Act and related regulations also identify required distances from watercourses for blasting, etc. but evidently NSE's Inspector refuses to enforce them either at this strip mine at the mouth of the Bras d'Or Lakes. Why not?


Photo 29 and 30 (drainage ditches) were viewed and are within the active site where erosion and sedimentation controls are not necessary.


Evidently the Inspector failed to notice that Photos 29 and 30 show that, even despite the heavy rains, there's no water in the drainage pipe or ditch to the Prince Mine workings or Settling Ponds for treatment as required prior to discharge. The water has to be going somewhere but where?


Photo 31 and 32 show Crown Stakes, one by a watercourse and another within the active site.


Evidently the Inspector failed to notice the captions on Photos 31 and 32 illustrating that they have not left the required riparian buffer to a watercourse, and have not constructed a rock lined perimeter ditch around the active work areas as required. The DNR Crown stakes serve as landmarks that NSE's Inspector ought to be familiar with by now but never seems to notice the predictable site runoff in the area. Why not?


Other than Photos 29, 30, 31 and 32, no further information was provided to support your allegation.


What further information does the public need to provide? Inspector Langille has been monitoring and inspecting the site for over two years now and should be able to provide his own first hand evidence of the required riparian buffers and rock lined perimeter ditches and water treatment systems. If they exist, where are they?


Particulate Emissions (Dust)

"Numerous complaints received... from nearby residents of dust covering their homes indicate that Pioneer Coal has not ensured that Particulate Emissions do not exceed Air Quality Regulations, and coal transport trucks have not been washed as necessary to eliminate the tracking of site materials on local roads. (Photo 33)"

Page 8 of 14
NSE Response to allegation:

To date, PCL has not exceeded the particulate emissions as set in the Approval. Water sprays and road sweepers are regularly utilized around the site and near by public road. During all audits, trucks were confirmed to be tarped and free of loose debris upon exiting the site.


Did Environment's Inspector actually observe the trucks exiting the mine site during the course of his 3 month Investigation? If the trucks were confirmed to be free of loose debris upon exiting the site then why do they have to water spray and sweep the public road? Does the public have to call in Vehicle Compliance again to do what NSE's Monitoring and Compliance Inspector won't do and never notices during his "audits"?


The dust event portrayed in Photo 33 does not appear to be typical of PCL's daily operation. The specific location of the parked haul trucks visible in the photo indicates the site was conducting a blast. Photo 33 does not provide the necessary information to support your allegation that Particulate Emissions are exceeding Air Quality Regulations.


What information does NSE need the public to provide in order to investigate the dust at the mine site? Photo 33 illustrates a dust cloud typical of PCL's weekly blasts that drifts over nearby homes. Did Environment's Inspector inspect the site for dust, did he collect his own evidence, did he review the scientific monitoring data that the public does not have access to? If so, were emissions within the guidelines, then why doesn't he say so?


Sound Levels

"Numerous complaints received ...from nearby residents disturbed by noises from the site almost 24/7 indicate that Pioneer Coal has not ensured that sound levels do not exceed the approved limits. (Photo 34)"

NSE Response to allegation:

Photo 34, showing equipment working within the site, does not provide information to support the allegation that sound levels are exceeding. Specific date and time information is required to evaluate sound exceedences.

Since the Industrial Approval was issued, PCL has monitored sound levels. There have been sporadic minor sound exceedences during operational hours, as well there have been sound exceedences during non-operational hours. Based on the non-constant frequency of exceedences, limited volume of complaints received from the public and management actions taken by PCL, sound levels are being managed appropriately at the site. NSE will continue to closely monitor sound level data for the site.


If Inspector Langille has been closely monitoring the sound level data as required then why have there been so many exceedences and for so long? Why has the Inspector repeatedly allowed PCL to operate "during non-operational hours" in violation of the Approval? At this rate of obvious failure to monitor and enforce compliance what can the people of CBRM expect when the moratorium is lifted on the other sites across the region, how many complaints and evidence from the public does it take for NSE to ensure that sound levels are "managed appropriately"?


Blasting

Allegation:

"Numerous complaints received ...from nearby residents of their homes being shaken by blasting indicate that Pioneer Coal has not ensured that the air concussion and ground vibration do not exceed the approved limits. The powerful blast and resulting dust that hung over nearby homes on 21 August 2008 indicates that Pioneer Coal blasted despite the obvious weather conditions and thermal inversion that day. (Photo 35)"

Page 9 of 14
NSE Response to allegation:

As noted from the October 29, 2008 interview Photo 35 depicts the September 11, 2008 blast and was provided for informational purposes. Photo 35 was not intended to portray the August 21, 2008 blast.

To date, all blasts have been well within the stated ground and air concussion limits set out in the approval in Schedule H. Field inspection observations collected August 21, 2008 during the blast indicate weather/site conditions that differ from the observations provided in the application.


Whose field inspection observations of the weather conditions that day, Pioneer's? What does Environment Canada's data show for Augst 21, 2008? Has NSE's Inspector ever witnessed a blast and felt the concussion in nearby homes or talked to the homeowners? Was it just a figment of their imagination that it was overcast and raining and the concussion was more severe that day?


Goundwater

Allegation:

"Pioneer Coal stated in its Industrial Approval application that a groundwater monitoring well will be installed at Coal Hollow Brook, downstream from Point Aconi Road (downstream from potential site influence) to assess the condition of Coal Hollow Brook. However ...inspection of the brook from the road to the shore revealed no sign of the existence of the monitoring well marked on the submitted map."

NSE Response to allegation:

PCL has not installed a monitoring well along Coal Hollow Brook as this is not required. Within Section 3.0 titled "Monitoring" in the PCL Environmental Protection Policy, this feature is identified as SW1 and is discussed. SW1 is a surface water sampling location that is being monitored on a regular basis by PCL.


Whether it's a monitoring well or a surface water sampling location, the fact is both Pioneer Coal and the Environment Department have supposed to have been monitoring Coal Hollow Brook all along. If the required monitoring was done then why didn't Environment's Monitoring and Compliance Inspector know something was wrong long before affected landowners filed an Application for Investigation?


Allegation:

"Between smoke and dust from the blasting that stings the eyes and Acid Mine Drainage being discharged into the brooks and fishing grounds and salt water intrusion into domestic wells, as a nearby resident says "They're poisoning us, it should be shut down"."

NSE Response to Allegation:

NSE encourages and invites any resident who feels they may be negatively impacted by the operation to contact NSE directly in a timely manner.

To date, NSE has not received complaints regarding salt water intrusion nor has salt water intrusion been identified within the domestic well monitoring program. As stated in the October 29, 2008 interview you could not identify an impacted domestic water supply. You have not provided sufficient evidence to support the allegation of salt water intrusion of a domestic water supply.


So Inspector Langille can collect his own evidence and can investigate his own monitoring data that's not available to the public when it suits him. CASM's testing of the excavated pit by the shore showed evidence of salt water intrusion. Excavation #2 has not proceeded according to the approved reclamation plan, why not? Has NSE identified any salt water intrusion from the mining activities?


Allegation:

"The surface water collection system was not capable to diverting all mine water and site runoff including extreme precipitation events to the underground workings and settling ponds on 7 September 2008 when the area around the pump house flooded, etc. (Photo 36)"

NSE Response to allegation:

The design of the pumping station is noted earlier in this response (See page 3). This pumping station operates independently from the settling ponds and other site water controls.

Photo 36 as provided identifies pooling water around the pump house area. During this time, NSE was aware of planned maintenance at this pump house. During inspections, NSE did not observe an offsite discharge.

Within the October 29, 2008 interview you indicated that the water in Photo 36 was draining to the roadway ditch via the driveway and that the picture pretty much tells the story.

Subsequent to the interview, NSE conducted a follow up inspection of the pump house area. Elevation data collected during this inspection indicates that a significant additional volume of water compared to what is present in Photo 36 is required to result in an offsite discharge exiting from the driveway.

During site audits, there has been no indication of settling pond or site water control failure. Additional evidence was not provided to support the allegation concerning the settling ponds and other site water controls.


There was an extreme precipitation event and the area around the pump house obviously flooded. What additional evidence does the Inspector need that the system was not capable of pumping the runoff into the underground workings as required by the Approval? Why did the area flood, where did the water come from, where did the water go? If there was nothing wrong why did they install a new pipeline to the underground portals? At the interview the Inspector asked if the water was draining to the roadway ditch. The ditch is full of tall grass so you can't see it, but you could hear a torrent of water gushing through the culvert at the driveway, so the question was answered to the best of our knowledge. Evidently the Inspector collected his elevation data long after Pioneer dug up the area to install a new pipeline, and evidently he fails to consider what the volume of water was before Photo 36 happened to be taken by a passerby.


Transportation of Coal

Allegation:

"Visual inspection at the front gate shows that trucks are not clean and free of loose coal fines or debris prior to leaving the site. There is also evidence of stockpiling and processing of coal at the site which was not included in the environmental assessment and approval process. (Photo 37) "

NSE Response to Allegation:

During all audits, trucks were confirmed to be tarped and free of loose debris upon exiting the site.

As taken from your October 29, 2008 interview, Photo 37, is intended to indicate dust. With respect to Dust, please refer to the earlier response (See page 8).

With respect to the allegation of stockpiling and processing, please refer to the earlier response (See page 6).


Apparently Environment's Inspector fails to comprehend Photo 37 illustrates that the typical coal truck leaving the site is not free of loose coal fines or debris when he's not doing his scheduled audit, and evidently fails to ever observe first hand.


Wetlands

Wetlands have been discussed previously in this report (See page 6&7). No additional allegations were identified under this heading in the application for investigation.



Evidently NSE chooses to continue to ignore their wetlands policy and what the experts tried to tell them in public submissions about this specific site. Last year NSE failed to identify a wetland until after Pioneer Coal had destroyed it. As compensation, Pioneer promises to build a bigger and better wetland. Consequently Pioneer says it wont need as much topsoil as originally planned so began trucking it to NSPI's ash dump. At this rate of the same old same old from NSE and DNR, Point Aconi will be left with a huge hole in the ground full of toxic mine water and guess who'll end up paying the clean up costs as usual?


Rehabilitation

Allegation:

"Visual inspection of the site shows that the excavations are not in accordance with the approved progressive rehabilitation plan. Instead, all the woodlands and wetlands west of the old haul road behind the Prince Mine have been clearcut and excavated and dynamited and mined as fast as possible since "reclamation" activities began in September 2006. (Photos 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49)

NSE Response to Allegation:

The daily and long term operation of mine incorporates progressive reclamation. During site inspections, visual evidence of progressive reclamation is clearly visible within and around the mining blocks.

PCL has addressed a great number of existing environmental liabilities since the operation began in September 2006.

Concerning the mining approach, an adequate level of site performance bonding is held by DNR Mineral Resources Division.



Yet again, the Inspector fails to provide any evidence to back up his claim of progressive reclamation, not even a description. Clearly Excavations #1 and #2 have not proceeded according to the approved plan, while the southwest boundary from Excavations #2 to #10 where the Hub Seam outcrops along the "haul road" from the Prince Mine to the shore has been strip mined asap, and filled in much higher than the original contours creating runoff from the site that naturally the Inspector fails to observe. Why won't NSE's Inspector show the public the monthly aerial photographs that have been taken all along?


Allegation:

"The anonymous Citizens Liaison Committee has not met since 19 March 2007, there have been no public information sessions or any public consultation or community involvement whatsoever, the requirements for a reclamation plan have not been submitted while the CLC has publicly refused to meet with the community or our elected representatives. (CLC letter attached)"

Page 12 of 14
NSE Response to Allegation:

With respect to the CLC, please refer to the earlier response (See page 5).

For clarity, Schedule L of the Approval identifies the reclamation plan is required to be updated every 3 years from the date of issuance of the Approval.


When and where was the public consultation on the present "reclamation plan" as required by the Approval? Evidently having an anonymous CLC that holds secret meetings is NSE's definition of "public consultation".


Site Specific Conditions

Allegation:

"Despite numerous requests, to date NSDE has been unable to provide a map outlining the approved mine site boundaries or specify the approved size of the area, nor define the meaning of approved "Mining Blocks", marked in yellow on the map. (Photo 50)"

This directly relates to the matter of the "Notice of Appeal" to the Supreme Court you are involved with.

Pioneer Coal Limited is Approved to operate the Surface Coal Mine and Reclamation Project within the footprint that is identified in Schedule A of the Approval.   If you wish to review a hardcopy of the Industrial Approval, which includes the footprint, copies are available for viewing at the Sydney NSE office and the three Northside Libraries.

For a clearer understanding of the mining blocks it would be more suitable to contact the mine or the CLC to gain this knowledge. The Mine Manager can be contacted at (902) 578-9511 or the CLC at (902) 563-4011.


Schedule A of the Approval states that "The facility is outlined in yellow as highlighted in Figure 1-2", shown in Photo 50. But in July 2007 Pioneer Coal strip mined an area outside of the approved mining bocks outlined in yellow and despite the Minister's statements that this area would not be mined. This led to questions of where else is Pioneer Coal allowed to mine outside of the facility outlined in yellow in Figure 1-2, where is the approved "footprint" and what's it's size? If the Inspector doesn't know where the footprint of the approved Mining Blocks is then how does he monitor and inspect it for compliance? If the public has to appeal to the Supreme Court to get anwers to such simple pertinent questions, what else is the government hiding about this project?


Allegation:

"Visual inspection of the site shows that disturbance has extended beyond the 4 foot boundary stake behind the stockpiles. (Photo 51)"

Confirmed from site inspections, the facility is operating within it's delineated boundary as identified within Schedule A of the Approval.

Photo 51 identifies an area that has been harvested of trees. Tree harvesting is not a recognized activity under the department's Activities Designation Regulations.

The white stake depicted in Photo 51 is a Nova Scotia Crown stake, not a site boundary.


If the Crown stake in Photo 51 does not mark the site boundary then what does it mark? Where is the site boundary as approved? Is the area that has been harvested of trees within the approved boundary outlined in yellow? Has the Order in Council "to develop and operate a surface coal mine and for no other purpose" on this Crown land been modified to include tree harvesting? Are there any tree harvesting regulations, if so why is Pioneer Coal exempt?


Page 13 of 14
Section 115 Application For Investigation Conclusion

The public is an important source of information relating to compliance with or violations of the Environment Act, associated regulations and Approvals. NSE promotes and facilitates the reporting of legitimate environmental offences.

In conclusion, from a review of what is alleged, the information provided to the department, file information, the activity to date at this site, review of the Environmental Assessment, Industrial Application, applicable supporting documentation and the Terms and Conditions of the Pioneer Coal Limited Surface Coal Mine and Reclamation Project Approval (2006-051995), sufficient information to support the allegations is not present for NSE to proceed further with the investigation.

The Department is closely monitoring the operation and will continue to ensure that Pioneer Coal Limited operates in compliance with the Industrial Approval, Environment Act and applicable legislation throughout the operational and reclamation aspects of this project.


Since NSE "is closely monitoring the operation", what more information does the public need to provide for the Inspector to proceed with an investigation of the complaints and gather his own first hand evidence? As CASM's evidence shows, NSE considers Poneer Coal to be in compliance just because their Inspector consistently fails to observe the very obvious environmental offences that everyone else can see. And evidenty there's no reason to have any faith or trust in NSE's ability to protect our environment from the predictable adverse effects of strip mining when they're so busy turning a blind eye and covering up for the mining company.


As noted earlier, the department will continue to collaborate with our federal counterparts with respect to the occurrence observed in Coal Hollow Brook. As well, the department will continue to collaborate with DNR with respect to the review of the matter concerning the pooling water adjacent to a wetland. NSE will provide you with an update as additional information becomes available throughout the review of these matters.


If the collective powers that be still cannot figure out what's happening at Coal Hollow Brook since Pioneer Coal started blasting and excavating in the area, and would not even know about it if the public hadn't monitored and inspected the site themselves, then what happens when the moratorium expires and they start the remediation and reclamation of the other sites across the Cape Breton Regional Municipality of over 110,000 people? Obviously calling the Environment Department is an exercise in futility.


Should you have any other matters this office can address, please feel free to contact me at (902) 563-2100 or via email at lanqilbd@gov.ns.ca .

Brad Langille Inspector Specialist


A lot of good that does! Any wonder why the public doesn't waste their time calling the Environment Department? Is their Point Aconi "test case" considered a sucess that justifies lifting the moratorium on "reclamation" of the other sites across the region? What's going to be left of CBRM if strip mining is allowed to continue in this ill-conceived and deceitful fashion? How does burning the high sulphur coal at the province's power plants meet the old emission standards much less the new? Why won't Environment Minister Parent practice what he preaches, and be held accountable for failing to do so?


cc:   Mark Farrell, District Manager, NSE

Page 14 of 14

13 January 2009
CASM'S Conclusion:

Nova Scotia's Environmental Assessment and Approval process is flawed, the Monitoring and Compliance process is flawed, and the Investigation process is flawed. Getting Mark Parent off the hook and making former DNR czar David Morse Minister of Environment doesn't fix the problems.

Since the very beginning, the Environment Department has turned a deaf ear to what everyone has tried to tell them, has turned a blind eye to what everyone can see, has ignored the documented scientific facts and monitoring data, and refuses to acknowledge the obvious adverse effects on local residents.

Local residents whose homes are being shaken by the weekly blasts and covered in smoke and dust, and disturbed by noises 24/7, and the brook through their properties has turned orange etc., have no one to call.

There is no one acting on behalf of the people and communities affected by Pioneer Coal's "reclamation" project at Point Aconi, we have no say in the matter.

The government's anonymous Community Liaison Committee that holds secret meetings is a revolting disgrace that no honourable person cares to be associated with, but apparently NSE won't listen to anyone else.

When local residents contact NSE's Inspector he tells us to get our own evidence, or to contact Pioneer Coal's Site Manager who either doesn't answer the phone or threatens the public with his truck. When we go over the Inspector's head to the District and Regional Managers, Executive Director, Minister, and Premier they just pass the buck back to the Inspector and the circle jerk starts all over again.

Because of the public's concerns based on past experiences with strip mining in the region, Schedule D(f) of the Industrial Approval requires Pioneer Coal to "bear all expenses incurred in carrying out the environmental monitoring required under the terms and conditions of this Approval". During the 2006 election campaign, the Minsters and the Premier came to town and repeatedly assured the public that this project would be closely monitored for compliance every step of the way.

But despite all the resources at his disposal, NSE's Inspector has repeatedly failed to observe obvious and predictable problems at the mine site that he has the power to prevent but instead grants "exemptions" for Pioneer Coal, at the Minster's discretion.

If the Environment Act and regulations are to have any meaning:

1. We need environmental Inspectors and Investigators with eyes in their heads and some common sense, and who aren't bought off by the mining companies and politicians to cover up for them, or squelched for asking pertinent questions. And who can read a map, and recognize water when they see it and collect samples in a timely manner.

2. We need a justice system that protects the rights of the people, and enforces the environmental regulations on the mining companies instead of finding loopholes and pathetic excuses for them.

3. We need a democratic government that honestly informs the public of what they're doing at the clean up, remediation, reclamation, rehabilitation or whatever at the old Prince Mine site in Point Aconi and province wide, and

4. We need an Approval process that requires the community's informed consent, not just of the MLA and some bureaucrats in Halifax.

5. We need a public independent panel review of strip mining Point Aconi and the province's other proposed reclamation sites across CBRM before the moratorium is lifted in April 2009, and before DNR and NSE unilaterally issue any more mining permits under the pretext of "cleaning up" old mine sites.

6. We need an independent review of burning high sulphur coal at the province's power plants and NSE's lack of enforcement of air quality regulations.

As the evidence in the Section 115 Application goes to show, Nova Scotia's Environment department has failed the people of Point Aconi, again. It doesn't matter what we try to do to protect our community and water resources from the well known adverse effects of strip mining, NSE's turns a blind eye and a deaf ear to local residents' well founded concerns. During the course of this investigation NSE's Inspector told us to call DOT and DNR and DFO and Devco and Environment Canada ourselves, he wouldn't do it.

7. We need an Environment department that does the job it's meant to do, and treats the public with all due respect.

8. We need a One Window process for the people and communities being adversely affected by these mining projects instead of being excluded from the process altogether or given the runaround at best.

9. We need field inspectors and managers and directors and ministers who actually walk the walk instead of just talk the talk, and even then don't know what they're talking about.

Rodney MacDonald and his Cabinet Ministers have had their chance to prove they can cleanup their flagship test case in Point Aconi the "environmentally right way" and with proper public consultation. Their three years are up in April!

10. We need those responsible held accountable for what they've done to over 100 acres of healthy coastal woodlands and wetlands and wildlife habitat and local residences at the mouth of the Bras d'Or Lakes despite what everyone tried to tell them.

Otherwise, who's next? New Environment Minister Morse is invited to respond to the public's concerns but naturally there's no reason to hold our breath.

2006 - Along Sherie Lee Lane, Point Aconi:

2008 - Along Sherie Lee Lane, Point Aconi:

"It is abundantly clear that the land on this property is in a derelict state, from years of underground mining and bootlegging. There can be no question that a significant effort is required to return this property to a safe and productive state, and it remains my conviction that the best means to effect this is to allow the remaining coal to be recovered, and to allow this recovery to pay for the remediation. I believe that the end result will be a benefit for the land and for the community."
- Premier Rodney MacDonald
11 May 2006

Where's next on his hit list?    DNR's "Reclamation Challenge"

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