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Status Report        2007-2008   Current

Site: Prince Mine, Point Aconi Block
Location: Point Aconi - McCreadyville
Status: Closed/ To be Reclaimed
- Operated between 1975 - 2001
- Produced >22 million tonnes
- Ash 12%; Sulphur 3.8%; BTU 11,800
- Waste piles 250,000 m3 (5.7 acres)
- Acid water treatment facility
Source: Coal Related sites in Industrial Cape Breton, NSDNR 2003

Sold by DEVCO to Pioneer Coal Ltd. in June 2006
Industrial Approval to "clean up" issued September 2006

"It is not a healthy or safe environment,
and this goes a long way to cleaning up the devastation
that has been left from a couple of centuries of coal mining
in that area."

 
- DNR Minister Morse in House of Assembly, 28 March 2007

August 29th - The "cleaning up" of Point Aconi continues by destroying healthy Natural Resources Crown woodlands and wetlands to the shore at the mouth of the Bras d'Or Lakes for high sulphur, high ash, high mercury "surface" coal that was considered unfit to burn before!

"Prior to any mining activity proceeding on the site, the proponent must post
a bond for approximately $5 million with NSDNR to cover issues related to restoration and final reclamation. This would ensure future generations do
not pay the cost of restoration of the site."

 
- NSEL Minister Parent in dismissing Appeal, 17 November 2006

August 27th - Still lacking compliance with the required bonds and other Terms and Conditions of Approval, under the pretext of "cleaning up" the Prince Mine, clearcutting of the Crown woodlands and wetlands has resumed, expansion of the pit continues with the high sulphur, high ash coal from the Prince Mine being trucked to the high polluting Lingan generating station!

"We will be stringently watching and working
with the company to make sure every step
is followed, and if not, we will be there
to ensure they are following the law"

 
- Premier Rodney MacDonald, 18 May 2006

August 17, 2007 - Evidently by NS government standards excavating coal and spreading it on roadways is not considered to be "mining" and does not require any application or environmental assessment or industrial approval or compliance with the Terms and Conditions. Instead, the mining company can do whatever they want with impunity, here or anywhere, and no one dares hold the government accountable for their ill-conceived patronage scam!

August 14, 2007 - Contrary to Premier MacDonald's claims, Pioneer Coal continues to flaunt the fact that they can violate every law and regulation and Term and Condition in the book with impunity as they mine the high polluting coal and truck it to their processing and stockpiling facility at the site in contravention of NSEL's meaningless conditions for Industrial Approval.

August 12, 2007 - Almost a year after receiving Industrial Approval Pioneer Coal still has not met the Terms and Conditions, has still not paid the required reclamation bonds, has still not submitted detailed plans on managing the mine water as required, and still does not have a permit to mine. But NSEL allows them to continue "preparing for mining" the woodlands and wetlands anyway. Two months after closing Sherrie Lee Lane there is still no evidence of any "hazard to the travelling public" as NSDTPW claimed in their justification for closing the road.

August 7, 2007 - For a project that still does not have a permit to mine or stockile coal on a site that supposedly has no potential for Acid Mine Drainage there sure is a lot of evidence of both going on with impunity despite NSEL's twice weekly inspections!

FLASHBACK: May 29, 2006 - Then Minister of Natural Resources Brooke Taylor:
"Although you are correct that coal mining is not proposed for at least part of the area that was inhabited by the Prince Mine infrastructure, the clean up of the area occupied by this infrastructure is very much part of the Pioneer proposal. A reading of the Environmental Assessment document shows that this area, although it will not be mined, will be cleaned up and reclaimed as part of the operation."

July 31, 2007 - Four weeks after Environment Minister Parent visited Point Aconi and said that they're "cleaning up" the Prince Mine, that the reclamation bonds have been paid and NSEL's Terms and Conditions of Approval met, and Sherie Lee Lane will be reopened, no one can confirm a word he said. And NSEL cannot explain why Pioneer Coal is presently bootleg mining the Prince Mine without any application or environmental assessment or industrial approval whatsoever to do so. Instead NSEL's Monitoring and Compliance Inspector says "to contact the operators or the CLC with respect to the clarity you wish to gain regarding work taking place inside the front fence"! "With respect to bonding and the terms and conditions for the site", "an interim performance bond is in place. Please contact the Department of Natural Resources, Mineral Resources Division concerning questions with regard to bonding", ie Don Jones! "Prior to the alteration or disruption of any wetlands, the proponent will be required to obtain the necessary Approvals and post a separate bond specific to wetlands to NSEL". "For details on the closure of Sherri Lee Lane, the Department of Transportation and Public Works is the most suitable department to address questions of this nature."

July 27, 2007 - Stockpiling and mining of coal outside the approved mining blocks continues with impunity while the excavation behind the homes on Forrest Lane fills with water and the exposed sulphur can be seen in the pit despite NSEL's state of denial about any adverse effects.

July 23, 2007 - NS government sanctioned bootleg mining continues just inside the front fence without any environmental assessment of the Prince Mine whatsoever or any mining permits! NSDEL, NSDNR, NSDTPW and the area's MLA's still have not answered the public's simple obvious questions. The Community Liaison Committee is still nowhere to be seen or heard.

July 19th - Despite Minister Parent's claims, over a month later and Sherie Lee Lane remains closed for no apparent reason, Pioneer Coal has still not paid the required bonds nor met the Terms and Conditions of Approval, and NSEL still cannot explain what they're excavating outside of the approved mining blocks and without any EA or IA to mine Devco's old Prince Mine, and they still don't know themselves where the approved "footprint" of this strip mine is or it's size!

July 9th - At Point Aconi last week Minister Parent said Sherie Lee Lane will be "re-opened", that the "bonds have been paid", and they're just "cleaning up the Prince Mine". Truth is, DTPW has "no knowledge" of Parent's claim, his Compliance Officer still has not received a copy of the bonds, and Pioneer continues to strip mine our woodlands and wetlands for high polluting coal while Minister Parent is away on another week long junket to Trinidad & Tobago, again!

CROWN LAND DESTRUCTION!

July 4th 2007 - After a question from the public at Point Aconi yesterday about the Crown Land being strip mined, Environment Minister Parent had his Inspector Specialist call back. The Inspector Specialist who "monitors the site twice weekly" says that there are 600 hectares of CROWN LAND, half of which is to be mined! So when does Premier MacDonald's government intend to inform the people of Nova Scotia about their plans to strip mine all this NS Crown Land in addition to the federal Devco properties? If there's nothing stopping this ill-conceived project there's nothing even allowed to question the rest of them! They ignore our concerns!

July 3rd - Even after a tour, Minister Parent still claims they're just "cleaning up the Prince Mine" despite all the NS Crown Land being strip mined! He claims NSEL "monitors the site twice weekly", but even with an NSDNR employee clearcutting the trees it took 6 months to recognize the obvious wetlands and by then it was too late! He says Sherrie Lee will be "re-opened". He claims the bonds have been paid, but we're awaiting confirmation. Where's the area's MLA?

In response to the Section 115, NSEL's District Manager writes: "It is NSEL's analysis once Pioneer Coal is ready to mine coal or extract a `bulk sample', it is then that Pioneer Coal must be in compliance with the Terms and Conditions of the Approval." - Mark Farrell, response dated 27 June 2007, received July 3rd

June 29th - Despite Rodney's campaign promise to do it right this time, Pioneer Coal continues to excavate without having paid the required reclamation bonds or even get a mining permit while the 2004 environmental assessment of the Prince Mine is still being squelched!

June 25th - DTPW says it closed Sherie Lee Lane because "As the work at mining site started to become more advanced, the work undertaken by Pioneer would have begun to pose an increasingly greater hazard to the traveling public due to the presence of heavy equipment and excavation. It would have been very difficult to keep the site secure and safe if the general public was allowed continued unrestricted access. For this reason it was decided the road should close at this time." Obviously the public's safety comes second!
So how does one get from A to B safely, and what happened to the ? modification as outlined on Pioneer's "Beach Access" map in the EA documentation? Another meaningless condition of NSEL's Approval?

June 24th - The settling pond is black not tropical blue, stockpiles of coal are hidden in the waste rock pile as government sanctioned bootleg mining continues without the required bonds and permits, through the supposedly unsafe and unhealthy woodlands and bogs to be strip mined around Devco's old Prince Mine.

June 22nd - STILL lacking the required bonds and mining permits has not stopped Pioneer from spending the past two weeks destroying woodlands and excavating coal beyond the public eye behind the haul road in an area of rare Lady's Slipper plants, but as usual NSEL's blind Inspector Specialist fails to notice the obvious!

June 20th - While "Panzos: 25 years later" is on display at the Museum of Industry in Stellarton, Guatemalan artist Marlón García Arriaga looks at Canadian mining practices in Point Aconi and relates his experience. Meanwhile, NSEL's Executive Director writes that his staff are still “assessing information and will be making a determination about the best course of action as a result of the review" in response to our January 28th Application for Investigation under Section 115 of the Environment Act due two months ago.

June 19th - It only took a week and a barrage of complaints about safety for the powers that be at NSDTPW to come to their senses and take down the new no left turn sign and put up a Stop sign instead. Now if only the powers that be at NSDEL and NSDNR would come to their senses too! The barricade and pile of dirt weren't enough so Pioneer has blocked Sherie Lee Lane with a pile of trees. What don't they want anyone to see as they destroy our coastal woodlands?


June 15th - Pioneer Coal has still NOT met the TERMS AND CONDITIONS of NSEL's approval No. 2006-051995 issued last September and has still NOT paid the security bonds as required before mining can begin or any wetlands disturbed along Sherie Lee Lane. Lacking the permits to dig up anything else and ignoring the Terms and Conditions of approval, the Dept. of Transportation & Public Works has closed Sherie Lee Lane at this time because: "Mr. Chisholm's company received approval No. 2006-051995 from the Nova Scotia Department of Environment and Labour to carry out a mining operation in the vicinity of a portion of Sherri Lee Lane. Based on this, our department closed the section of Sherri Lee Lane going directly through the mining site as it would not be safe for general access to public. At the completion of the mining operation, the road will be reinstated. We have a received a bond and a security deposit from the company to ensure the road is properly reinstated. I am not aware that the western end of the Sherri Lee Lane was ever officially closed to traffic but understand it had been seldom used for some time. Due to some concerns expressed by local area residents, I have asked our district to review this new access to ensure it is safe for the public to use." DTPW's Executive Director has difficulty undestanding why a dangerous closed road to the beach was seldomly used! And if the eastern portion of Sherie Lee Lane has been safe for general access to the publc all this time why is it suddenly considered unsafe now?


"ARD is not expected to be an issue at the site as coal is shipped off-site to market. Any temporary “in pit” quantities of coal that may exist will not create an ARD issue as the host rock is net consuming." - Pioneer Coal's 2005 Environmental Assessment Registration Document - Surface Coal Mine and Reclamation Project – Prince Mine Site (by the same consultant that did the squleched 2004 report for PWGSC)

June 15th - Typical evidence of Acid Rock Drainage is accumulating at the edge of the recently excavated pit on the Prince Mine Road despite NSEL's state of denial about any potential for its existence. "Preparing for mining" continues as Pioneer excavates topsoil from the woodlands to fix the mess they made excavating the wetlands when building their haul road to the shore.

June 14th - Still lacking payment of any bond and other permits required before strip mining Point Aconi for high sulphur coal that has no market, Pioneer has blockaded Sherrie Lee Lane and continues "preparing for mining" under the government's pretext of cleaning up old bootleg crop pits and "derelict" woodlands using "progressive rehabilitation".


June 12, 2007- After Transportation and Public Works placed an advertisement in the newspaper with no explanation or contact numbers, No Exit signs were installed and Pioneer Coal barricaded Sherrie Lee Lane at each end despite the fact that no bonds have been paid yet and other conditions have not been complied with yet, another of which was a requirement to keep the public informed about the details of the project.

Supposedly: Pioneer is just "preparing for mining" so they're not required to get a mining permit or pay any bond yet, the woodlands are "derelict" and a danger to our health, there's no wetlands, there's no toxic materials, there's no stockpiling of coal at the site, and there's no potential for acid mine drainage. Or you can believe what you can see with your own eyes!

June 7th - While Environment Minister Parent is on a week long junket to Scotland, Pioneer "continues to remove overburden" but the pillars of coal around former bootleg mining areas "are not to be removed until all permits & bonding is in place". Although Pioneer still does not have a market for the coal, and still does not have the required permits, and still has not paid any bond, and the results of NSEL's investigation are still "under review" by the Minister, and the 2004 PWGSC report is still being squelched, the NS government has issued Pioneer a permit to close Sherrie Lee Lane June 11th "until further notice"!!! What don't they want you to see???

June 1, 2007 - Despite the obvious evidence, NSEL is still in a state of denial about the acid mine drainage. Despite having no market for the high sulphur coal, Pioneer continues to dig deaper into the hole.

May 10, 2007 - Still in a state of denial about the obvious mine drainage, Pioneer Coal is proceeding full tilt with the expansion of the Prince Mine under the NS government's false pretexts of "remediation", "reclamation" and "progressive rehabilitation" of the "devastation" from centuries-old bootleg crop pits.

May 2, 2007 - Still lacking a proper assessment and other conditions of approval, Pioneer Coal has framed in its unmentioned stockpiling facility and continues to expand the Prince Mine pit under the pretext of cleaning up, while the western boundary of Devco's former Prince Mine property remains unscathed, so far.

April 20, 2007 - "The old coal workings, the rock produces acid we have to make sure that it is all sealed. As long as we keep that rock away from the oxygen it causes no harm. Once it comes in contact with oxygen, the sulphur in the rock switches to sulphuric acid and that material contributes to a lot of environmental damage. Clay or some other impervious membrane is layered over the rock and topped with several feet of soil, isolating the rock, to bring the site back to its untouched state". - Ross McCurdy, new Devco president

While Pioneer Coal does the opposite by strip mining Point Aconi, Acid Mine Drainage is evident in front of the portals despite NSEL's state of denial about it's existence, and Pioneer is building a loading and stockpiling facility that's also not mentioned in NSEL's environmental assessment and industrial approval.


After Excavation #1 currently underway, Pioneer will use its Novaminer to highwall mine 1500 feet under the homes along Forrest Lane. "Withdraw of the miner at the end of the work hours leads to water accumulation at the low end of the mining cuts. These cuts cannot be reentered because of the water. Highwall mining operations will run on a 24 hour basis, 5 days a week." - Pioneer's EARD.
"Complaints of loss of quantity or quality of water in a well may be directed to Pioneer Coal's local manager. Upon receipt of the complaint within the area described above, Pioneer Coal will supply potable water and begin discussions with the property owner on a remedy. In the event that a mutually agreeable arrangement cannot be concluded, then an independent arbitrator, agreeable to both parties, will be appointed to review the matter." - Pioneer Coal's Environmental Protection Plan

 

"The open surface mine will remove dangerous deep holes from previous mining activity which are currently a threat to wildlife."
- NSEL's justification for devastating the woodlands and wetlands of Point Aconi for generations to come! Industrial Approval Summary

April 11, 2007 - Pioneer continues to clear cut lumber from what Premier MacDonald claims are "derelict" woodlands, and continues to expand the Prince Mine pit behind the homes on Forrest Lane under the government's false pretext of "cleaning up" the "devastation" from past mining.

April 1, 2007 - Still lacking the required ownership and access rights, Pioneer Coal continues to excavate with impunity behind the homes along Forrest Lane while the settling pond at the nearby portals overflows with acid mine drainage and the guard chases after photographers.

Are they "surface mining for coal" or
"cleaning up the devastation" from the past?

March 12, 2007
"The Governor in Council on the report and recommendation of the Minister of Natural Resources dated February 21, 2007 is pleased to approve the issuance of a lease by the Minister of Natural Resources of a parcel of Crown land containing 61.24 hectares, situated at Point Aconi in the County of Cape Breton to Pioneer Coal Limited for the purpose of surface mining for coal and the placement of infrastructure necessary to develop and operate a surface coal mine and for no other purpose, for a term of ten (10) years at the annual rent to be calculated by multiplying the appraised market value of the land by 10%."

March 28, 2007
HON. DAVID MORSE: "Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for affording me the opportunity to first of all point out that this is the final step in the regulatory process. They had complied with all the environmental requirements and, ultimately, it came to a lease. What the member would appreciate, if he has ever been to the Point Aconi site, is that it is just pocked with open bootleg pits from the last two centuries. In some cases there is all kinds of garbage in them. It is not a healthy or safe environment, and this goes a long way to cleaning up the devastation that has been left from a couple of centuries of coal mining in that area."
Full Transcript



"Devastation"? Obviously Minister Morse fails to appreciate the truth of the matter, and fails to mention that the bootleg pits are along the Hub Seam exactly where Pioneer Coal has built its Haul Road, and they're gone! So WHY is the NS government so hell bent on devasting 83 hectares of woodlands and wetlands with blasting and strip mining 160 feet deep based on false pretexts and false promises to this day?

March 27th - NSEL’s Inspector Specialist says that Pioneer Coal has met the terms and conditions and have been given approval to mine wherever they have surface/access rights that’s not a wetland, including the Prince Mine which is the only area that's not wetlands. But there was no application or environmental assessment or industrial approval to mine the Prince Mine, only for the 85 hectares around it. NSEL never even mentioned the Prince Mine at all in its September 12, 2006 Press Release or Summary of its Industrial Approval!

"Although you are correct that coal mining is not proposed for at least part of the area that was inhabited by the Prince Mine infrastructure, the clean up of the area occupied by this infrastructure is very much part of the Pioneer proposal. A reading of the Environmental Assessment document shows that this area, although it will not be mined, will be cleaned up and reclaimed as part of the operation."
- Then Minister of Natural Resources Brooke Taylor, 29 May 2006

NS Department of Environment and Labour - Environmental Monitoring and Compliance Division - Approval 2006-051995 - 09/12/2006
Schedule A Condition (a) - Site Description:
a) The facility is outlined in yellow as highlighted in Figure 1-2 titled "Existing Site Features", and includes stockpile locations as outlined in Figure 11-1 titled "Mining Sequence". b) Existing site features related to former CBDC's Prince Mine site as noted on Figure 1-2 titled "Existing Site Features".
Schedule C Condition (a): The Site shall not exceed the area as outlined in the application and supporting documentation and such other documentation that may be submitted from time to time in accordance with this approval.
Schedule D Condition (d): The Proponent shall notify the Department prior to any proposed extensions or modifications of the Facility, including the active area, process changes or waste disposal practices which are not granted under this Approval. An Approval will be required before implementing any change. Extensions or modifications to the Facility may be subject to the Environmental Assessment Regulations.
Schedule E Condition (a): The proponent shall provide proof of surface rights and/or access rights to the Department, prior to any activity within the prescribed footprint as described in "Site Plan" - Figure 1-2
Schedule E Condition (g): Coal extraction activities shall not commence until the baseline data for surface water, groundwater, blasting and wetlands have been submitted, in writing, to the Department and deemed to be satisfactory to the Department
Schedule L Condition (f): Infrastructure that existed as part of the Cape Breton Development Corporation's (CBDC) operations shall be removed and the area reclaimed as part of the planned reclamation activities for the site associated with this approval.

"Due to the scale of this project, the multiple land owners involved and concerns expressed by Pioneer Coal about purchasing these properties without any degree of certainty that an approval would be issued, the Administrator informed Pioneer Coal that this information was not required at the time of application. The Administrator advised Pioneer Coal that should an industrial approval be issued, the terms and conditions of the approval would require Pioneer Coal to provide the Department with such proof of ownership, lease agreement or letters of authorization prior to the commencement of work. The Industrial Approval No 2006-051995 addresses this issue in Schedule D, Condition (b) and Schedule E, Condition (a)... The proponent will not be permitted to commence activity to operate a surface mine until such time as Schedule E Term (a) is satisfied... In respect to the economic analysis or business case for proceeding with this project, these issues do not fall within the mandate of the department and are business decisions that the proponent must make. However, prior to any mining activity proceeding on the site, the proponent must post a bond for approximately $5 million with NSDNR to cover issues related to restoration and final reclamation.
- Minister of Environment Mark Parent in dismissing Appeals, 16 November 2006

Obviously the Terms and Conditions of Environmental Assessment Approval and Terms and Conditions of Industrial Approval and the Environment Act and Regulations are meaningless and unenforceable documents when it comes to Environment Minister Parent and Premier MacDonald's highest corporate campaign donor!

March 26, 2007 - Offering homeowners $1,500/year for 5 years, Pioneer Coal continues to flaunt every rule and regulation and term and condition and permit requirement in the book while NSEL continues to promote the harassment and intimidation of the concerned public who dare to photograph the minutes of the anonymous CLC’s meetings posted on the bulletin board by the toilets at a gas station on the Trans Canada Highway that apparently meets NSEL’s requirement to “ensure the local community is fully informed about the details of the project”! Note the "devastation" at Excavation #1!

March 16th - What's the problem, what don't they want anyone to see? When a photographer stopped to take a photo through the fence on the Prince Mine Road, the Site Manager and CLC contact came dangerously barreling to within inches, said it was tresspassing and was calling the cops then blocked the exit. After five minutes, they slithered back inside the fence.

Still having not met the Terms and Conditions of NSEL’s Industrial Approval nor the Terms and Conditions for NSDNR’s mining permit, Pioneer Coal continues to excavate the Prince Mine with impunity even though there was no Environmental Assessment or even mention of the Prince Mine in NSEL’s approval "to operate the 85 hectare surface mine near Point Aconi", and they still won't explain where the "footprint" of the project is or where it was "scaled back".

What's the difference between Acid Mine Drainage and the "orange precipitate" coming out of the discharge pipe of the "Acid Water Treatment Facility" next to the "Devco waste rock pile" at Pioneer Coal's Prince Mine site at Point Aconi? Take a gravol then read the March 14, 2007 letter from NSEL's Executive Director for the Environmental Monitoring and Compliance Division!

March 12, 2007 - The Governor in Council on the report and recommendation of the Minister of Natural Resources dated February 21, 2007 is pleased to approve the issuance of a lease by the Minister of Natural Resources of a parcel of Crown land containing 61.24 hectares, situate at Point Aconi in the County of Cape Breton to Pioneer Coal Limited for the purpose of surface mining for coal and the placement of infrastructure necessary to develop and operate a surface coal mine and for no other purpose, for a term of ten (10) years at the annual rent to be calculated by multiplying the appraised market value of the land by 10%.

March 11, 2007 - While Pioneer Coal still has not met the Terms and Conditions for approval of this "progressive rehabilitation" project, nothing has been done about the "orange precipitate" still being discharged into the brook behind the "Acid Water Treatment Facility", a beaver has been busy in the lagoon and the area in front of it is still flooded, trees are still being clear cut and bulldozed through the 4.3 ha of wetlands between the Haul Road and Sherri Lee Lane despite the "Stop Work" order, and there's a lot of digging of pits going on at the Prince Mine.

March 9, 2007 - More "progressive rehabilitation" inside the fence behind the houses along Forrest Lane that Pioneer Coal plans to highwall mine under.

March 1, 2007 - While Environment Minister Mark Parent still has not answered obvious questions as promised, Pioneer Coal is still dumping the slag from the Prince Mine on the wetlands, and have clear cut along the south side of Sherri Lee Lane, notice the hydro line!

PASSING THE BUCK

February 28, 2007
"As you pointed out in your e-mail, acidic drainage is considered the largest environmental liability facing the mining industry. For that reason, my department has been involved in research to prevent and control acid mine drainage for over fifteen years. However, the department has not had any involvement in acid mine drainage issues related to the Prince site."

"Natural Resources Canada has no responsibility in regulating environmental issues such as water pollution. Applicable regulations dealing with mine reclamation and acid rock drainage are the responsibility of the Government of Nova Scotia, Department of Environment and Labour. As such, you may wish to address your concerns to the Honourable Mark Parent, Nova Scotia Minister of Environment and Labour or his Deputy Minister, Mr. William Lahey." - Natural Resources Canada

February 12, 2007
"Questions related to the settling ponds and the orange precipitate were answered previously in earlier correspondence. It is common practice for regulatory agencies to collaborate and assist one another. Information has been referred to Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Environment Canada regarding discharges to the brook as these agencies may be the more appropriate regulatory agencies to deal with this particular matter from an "adverse effect" perspective. We will continue to be involved and to monitor the situation." - Nova Scotia Department of Environment & Labour

RECIPE FOR ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER

February 20, 2007
“No study was done on what should be allowed. The project is going forward. Even though Pioneer has no market for the high sulphur coal.”

- Environment Minister Mark Parent at Cape Breton Cabinet Office in response to CASM asking WHY is he allowing strip mining Point Aconi. He STILL cannot answer WHERE the footprint of the site is, or WHAT the "orange precipitate" is, and still thinks there's a “Stop Work” deal! He said if we want to be informed about the project we should join his NSEL approved “Community Liaison Committee”. But it's STILL no where to be seen or heard!

February 22, 2007
"There was no federal EA conducted for the Point Aconi mine. At the time of the land transfer, Devco was not subject to the requirements of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. Therefore, the land transfer did not trigger a federal EA under the Act. And based on information the Agency has received to date, there are no other federal EA triggers for the project." - Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency

N.B. There was no provincial environmental assessment of the Prince Mine either, only of the surrounding 85 hectares of mostly Nova Scotia Crown lands to be strip mined. Federal crown corporation Devco sold the Prince Mine property to Pioneer Coal Ltd. on June 8, 2006, just days before Devco became subject to amendments to the federal Environmental Assessment Act on June 11, 2006! Pioneer Coal finally registered the deed on October 20, 2006, just days before the sale of federal properties became subject to disclosure under amendments to the federal Treasury Act! The Nova Scotia government approved Pioneer Coal's strip mine and dismissed the public's formal appeals just days before passing amendments to the provincial Environment Act on November 23, 2006 making the terms and conditions for approval enforceable on future projects, but not this one!

Saturday, February 17, 2007 - Obviously Rodney's "Green Plan" and Environment Minister Parent's word is worthless and their "stop work" order and "ongoing investigation" pointless as Pioneer Coal continues to violate every rule in the book in their rush to destroy the environment.

"Pioneer Coal still has a great deal of work to complete in its goal to satisfy the Terms & Conditions of its Approval before they can commence the actual mining."
- NSEL Compliance Officer, February 8, 2007

February 8, 2007 - With nowhere else to go after completing the berm along the Prince Mine Road, Pioneer's back inside the fence hammering at cement!

February 1, 2007 - As Pioneer's site manager and CLC contact does his thing to a photographer they're still dumping the slag on the wetlands and completed the haul road to the property line.

January 30, 2007
Pioneer Coal road project being reviewed
POINT ACONI — Pioneer Coal on Monday voluntarily stopped building an access road to its strip mine site on Boularderie Island after government launched an investigation of the road.

Province says strip mine damaged wetlands
Ken McKinnon, Department of Environment compliance and inspection coordinator, said a staff biologist from the Department of Natural Resources confirmed the area is a wetland. Although there isn't an official stop work order in place for the project, the investigation has been ongoing for a number of weeks.


"There is no mapped wetland habitat located within the Mining Blocks"
- Pioneer Coal's Environmental Assessment Registration Document

STOP WORK!


January 28, 2007 - Environment Minister Mark Parent met with CASM members for a few minutes and confirmed that the area that is being bulldozed is a 4.3 hectare wetland that they were not aware of until now and work has been stopped but Pioneer is appealing. They still do not know what the "pre-existing component" of "orange precipitate" is, much less about the unmapped wetlands that have been destroyed to within arms length of the unknown brook along the shore. Minister Parent has accepted CASM's invitation to attend a public meeting, tentatively scheduled for February 20th.

So now Pioneer's begun bulldozing along the Prince Mine Road instead!

“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 water is highly acidic and cannot be discharged into the environment untreated. This water is presently stored in the workings; however, ultimately, the storage capacity will be reached and a sustainable solution will be required. Surface mining through this area and subsequent backfilling will eliminate the present requirement.” - Pioneer Coal's EARD

January 21 - Pioneer has landfilled the flooded areas and elevated the haul road through the wetlands to about halfway between the mine and the western property line.

January 13, 2007 - Pioneer Coal has bulldozed clear through from Devco's old Prince Mine to the western boundary at Sherri Lee Lane creating obvious puddles and ponds of acid mine drainage in a process that is banned in most states but is government sponsored in Nova Scotia! Instead of cleaning up the mess from past mining they're making more of it and without any detailed survey or plans on managing it. Goes to show what a $7,500 campaign donation can buy eh?!

January 7, 2007 - More than two months after it was photographed and reported by area residents, the provincial and federal environment departments STILL have not figured out what the "orange precipate" STILL being discharged into MacDonald/Morrison brook is. The settling pond is nearing capacity again and the area around the lagoon is STILL flooded but NSEL STILL does not know why. A monitoring well has been installed 10 feet from the northern brook and the crown's property line along it blazed but NSEL has STILL not figured out if it's "within the proposed mining block" a month after it was photographed and reported by residents. The NSEL approved anonymous Community Liaison Committee is STILL nowhere to be seen or heard.





December 10 - STILL lacking any details as required by law, the government sanctioned eco-terrorists have bulldozed from Sherri Lee Lane north to the Atlantic Ocean, stopping at a plastic barricade 10 feet from the brook that is not mentioned anywhere in Pioneer's application nor anywhere in the government's approval of this destruction of Crown woodlands and wetlands:


December 22, 2006 - "Question: Why is there a black plastic barrier along the brook at the north end of the site? Why is this brook not mentioned anywhere in your department's environment assessment and industrial approval of this strip mine? NSEL's Response: The feature noted above would have been put in place to prevent potential silt from entering the down gradient watercourse. The Department has inspected the area of concern and obtained GPS coordinates. Before commenting, the Department must determine if this watercourse is within the proposed mining block. Upon making this determination, the Department will follow up with you."

November 14, 2006 - NSEL's Inspector Specialist writes that "The settling ponds have not been discharged to MacDonald Brook. With respect to the orange precipitate in MacDonald Brook, this is a pre-existing component the proponent will address. The precipitate has been viewed by the department, information has been collected and provided to the federal Environment Canada for additional review and comment." December 6 - "Department is awaiting lab results. Federal and Provincial environment staff have been working closely on this concern."

December 22 - "Question: Have you received the lab results and figured out what the "orange precipitate" is yet? NSEL Response: The Department has received the results from a bioassay. The report showed no mortalities or stressed behavior in rainbow trout exposed to a sample of the water from the under drain of the settling pond. The Department is awaiting further tests results for metals.
Question: Why is this "pre-existing component" not mentioned anywhere in your department's environmental assessment and industrial approval of this strip mine? NSEL Response: The Department is presently looking into this matter. The Department is following up with Pioneer Coal Limited and continues to work closely with Environment Canada with respect to the present concern."

November 13 - The settling pond has been drained, into where they won't say. Untreated acid mine drainage continues to be discharged into Morrison Brook and the vegetation indicates it's recent. Acid mine drainage is accumulating on and around the recently bulldozed slag heap. The area around the lagoon is still flooded making the newly bulldozed "haul road" along the Hub Seam unusable. No problem, just bulldoze another, the blind inspectors won't notice.

November 5 - Contrary to the approved "clean up" of the Prince Mine plan, the Hub Seam has been test drilled and bulldozed under the false pretext of being a "haul road", the already full settling pond is being drained, the area in front of the lagoon is flooded and the pipe behind the settling ponds is discharging untreated acid mine drainage into Morrison Brook!

Wednesday, November 1, 2006 - While some courageous souls tried to block Pioneer's huge truck, NSEL's Inspector Specialist is claiming that the swath that's been bulldozed and drilled along the Hub Seam is really just the "the main haul road for the site when mining operations commence"!

The Inspector Specialist also states in his October 31st email that: "The settling ponds were investigated and it was noted that the first settling pond on the site was nearing capacity. This pond, when full would overflow into the second of three ponds in series. Pioneer Coal has stated that the pond will be pumped out within the next week to eliminate any chance of the three ponds becoming full."

Pumped out to where?

May 14, 2006
October 25, 2006

November 24 - Question: "Why did the first settling pond reach capacity so quickly?" NSEL answer: "Infrastructure collects surface drainage from portions of the site and directs it to the first settling pond. Recent heavy rainfall events may have resulted in the first pond reaching capacity." Question 2. "Where was the water pumped out to?" NSEL answer: "The water from the settling ponds was pumped to the former Prince Mine workings. This is consistent with what was outlined in both the Environmental Assessment Approval and the Industrial Approval." Question: "If it is not from the settling ponds, then what is the source of the water that is coming out of the discharge pipe into the brook?" NSEL answer: "The source of this water is from a pre-existing weeping tiles system that was place under the liner of the settling ponds to reduce the upward pressure on the liners."

Monday, October 30, 2006 - Citizens aganst strip mining blocked the entrance to the Prince Mine. Rather than drive around to the back entrance Michael Jessome called the cops to clear the path.

Friday, October 27, 2006 - A walk along the bulldozed path behind the Prince Mine and Michael Jessome called the cops. After bulldozing himself in, CBRM Police tried, and tried again, to get Jessome to meet with us but he wouldn't get out of his truck. Contrary to statements by NSEL officials, the police say Jessome says he's not on the anonymous Community Liaison Committee but Paul MacDougal is and to call him at 794-1600 or 563-6984

December 6, 2006 - NSEL's Inspector Specalist writes "The Department was not present during the above situation and cannot comment on what is alleged. As a CLC member, Mr. Jessome can be contacted with questions regarding the CLC. In addition, the co-chairs, Mr. Paul MacDougall and Mr. Darryl Pyke can also be contacted. For anyone who wishes to contact the CLC the contact number is 902-563-4011."
February 17, 2007 - Other than Jessome threatening and intimidating the public and calling the cops, the CLC and Pioneer's John Chisholm and Point Aconi's MLA Cecil Clarke etc. are still nowhere to be seen or heard!
 

Thursday, October 26, 2006 - Pioneer closed the public road so you can't see what they're doing:

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 - What Pioneer is doing outside the fence behind the old Prince Mine that they don't want you to see because it's not according to the goverment approved plan for excavation. They've bulldozed from the slag heap, past the settling ponds which have already filled, towards Morisson Pond that Pioneer's application neglects to mention empties right into the ocean and fishing grounds.

Sunday, October 22, 2006 - See For Yourself Tour




FLASHBACK: May 29, 2006 - Then Minister of Natural Resources Brooke Taylor:

"Although you are correct that coal mining is not proposed for at least part of the area that was inhabited by the Prince Mine infrastructure, the clean up of the area occupied by this infrastructure is very much part of the Pioneer proposal. A reading of the Environmental Assessment document shows that this area, although it will not be mined, will be cleaned up and reclaimed as part of the operation."

Wednesday, October 18, 2006 - If Minister Taylor was telling the truth for a change, then what's this machine for?


Tuesday, October 17, 2006 - While locals picked cranberries in the bog to be strip mined, the anonymous CLC jumped in their trucks and scrambled in all directions when a camera stopped to photograph the new fence at the entrance. Bulldozers have been burying the evidence in the Prince Mine's toxic slag heap.


What happens to the water pumps when you turn off the power and take down all the hydro lines and poles? Duh! See October 25th and November 5th.

Saturday, September 30, 2006
 
Police were called Saturday to the site of a future strip mine in Point Aconi, where construction crews were met by a blockade of angry protesters. After a brief discussion mediated by Cape Breton Regional Police, the construction workers agreed to leave their equipment outside the gates surrounding the 85-hectare site and get a court injunction. The deal was broken minutes later when a worker used an excavator to rip down part of the chain link fence, allowing the crews to get inside. No one was injured. The province announced Tuesday that Pioneer Coal of Stellarton may begin digging for coal. - Chronicle Herald

December 22 - Despite the fact that Pioneer Coal did not have a recorded deed to the property as required, and CBRM police officers were present and a CTV News reporter filming it, NSEL's Inspector Specialist writes: "The Department was not present during the above situation and cannot comment on the verbal conversion that is alleged. In addition, the Department cannot comment on the incident regarding the fence, as this matter does not relate to the Environment Act or Approval issued pursuant to it."

November 17, 2006 - Environment Minister's Response to CASM's formal appeal: "Therefore, in accordance with Section 6 of the Application for Approval, the Administrator made the determination that a “copy of the property deed, lease or letter providing the applicant’s legal right to conduct the activity on the site” was not applicable at the time of application. Pioneer Coal has provided the department with a copy of the recorded property deed for the former Prince Mine property."

But the Minister neglects to mention when, or that the property deed was not recorded until October 20th!

May 3, 2006 - "Formation of and consultation with the Community Liaison Committee (CLC) is a significant component of the Terms and Conditions...NSEL has approved the CLC membership. The CLC was formed and the initial meeting held on May 3, 2006 in Sydney." - Pioneer Coal's Industral Approval application to strip mine Point Aconi
May 7, 2006 - Cape Breton North MLA Cecil Clarke said Saturday that most residents in his riding don’t share the same concerns as the protesters. "My role is to make sure all aspects of the law are upheld," he said. "We’ll keep moving forward."
May 17, 2006 - During a campaign stop in Sydney Premier MacDonald said that he has addressed concerns raised by people who don't want strip mining on Cape Breton, and that his government has "gone through the assessment process, we will be stringently watching and working with the company to make sure every step is followed, and if not, we will be there to ensure they are following the law." "I'm quite confident that through the legislative framework that's in place, through the regulations that are in place ... (government) will have a firm grip on what's happening in this case and future clean ups." Oh really?

September 12, 2006 - Nova Scotia Environment and Labour (NSEL) department issued its Industrial Approval of Pioneer Coal's strip mine (without ever once mentioning the Prince Mine). Restrictions and conditions which Pioneer Coal must meet include:
- "The open surface mine will remove dangerous deep holes from previous mining activity which are currently a threat to wildlife.
- The company must build the facility and prepare the site using methods that control soil erosion using sedimentation ponds. No discharge will be permitted outside the approved site footprint.
- Mining restrictions that are specific to this Point Aconi mine site must be followed, including: that the site be legally surveyed to ensure work is contained only where permitted;
- The above key conditions –and dozens more– will be enforced by provincial inspectors based in Cape Breton. They will monitor the mine site through unannounced inspections, prearranged visits, sampling for analysis and other regulatory practices". Oh really?

Click Current Status Report



What everyone should know about Acid Mine Drainage:

"This water is highly acidic and cannot be discharged into the environment untreated"
- Pioneer Coal's Environmental Assessment application, 2005

- “Acidic drainage is recognized as the largest environmental liability facing the mining industry and, to a lesser extent, the public through abandoned mines.” - Mine Environment Neutral Drainage (MEND) Program, Natural Resources Canada
- “The most significant problem with acid generation is that it may accelerate over time and, once begun, is almost impossible to stop.” - The State of Canada’s Environment, 1996
- “What has been confirmed in the MEND program is that prevention is the best solution for acidic drainage” - The State of Canada’s Environment, 1996
- “If the potential for acid drainage impact is too great or the future cost of controlling seepage from the resultant waste is too high, then the holistic cost of the mine cannot be justified on the basis of short-term shareholder profit… maybe only those mines that can replicate past successes should be opened and operated.” -7th International Conference on Acid Rock Drainage (ICARD), March 2006
- “In some cases the best prevention strategy may be to not approve development of high risk mine proposals when they endanger valuable waterways, habitat and fisheries.... Prevention of AMD is the only acceptable and responsible strategy.” - Environmental Mining Council of British Columbia
- “In Pennsylvania, if a proposed mine site is shown to have the potential for AMD, it is not licensed.” - Review of Canadian and United States legislation relevant to decommissioning acid mine drainage (AMD) sites, 1993
- But in Nova Scotia, the government STILL does not even know what the “orange precipitate” is, much less do anything about it!

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