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April 30, 2009 4:04 PM
The province is extending the deadline for consideration of 13 potential surface coal mining projects for another three years.
The original deadline, announced in April 2006, was intended to provide Pioneer Coal Ltd. with time to demonstrate the environmental impacts and the nature of reclamation from the mining initiative.
"We fully support the economic benefits of coal mining," said Minister of Natural Resources Carolyn Bolivar-Getson. "We are pleased with the progress of the Point Aconi project on Boularderie Island and with the responsible manner in which this project has been operated."
Pioneer Coal has been operating its Point Aconi mine since August 2007. As part of that approval, the minister of natural resources announced that no further surface coal projects in the old Devco lease area would be approved for three years. During that time there was an assessment of initial reclamation at the Pioneer operation, and an initiative to study ways of improving vegetative growth at reclaimed former coal mine sites took place.
"The initiative, which involved scientists from the provincial government and several Nova Scotia universities, including Cape Breton University, has provided valuable information on how to better encourage re-vegetation of reclaimed sites," said Ms. Bolivar-Getson. "However, we still need more time to fully evaluate these results so we can take full advantage of valuable lessons that will benefit all Nova Scotians as we move forward."
Meanwhile at the province's "reclamation" project at Point Aconi, Pioneer Coal blasted the wetlands to smithereens yet again today while NSE still refuses to acknowledge the obvious problems that they’re exacerbating by strip mining high sulphur coal from the neighouring DNR Crown land to pay for the remediation of the Prince Mine, and burning it at Lingan for over a year and a half now in violation of every emission standard in the book.
According to Devco, there are no coal reserves that can be viably mined in the Bras d’Or block covered by the Franklyn Project, which should throw Premier Rodney MacDonald's ill-conceived plan for "reclamation" of the area out the window once and for all when his 3 year moratorium expires in April.
|30 January 2009
Devco announces plans for Franklyn mine remediation
BY TOM AYERS
CAPE BRETON POST
FLORENCE - About 60 people attended an open house Wednesday to hear plans by the Cape Breton Development Corp. to clean up the Franklyn group of coal mines.
The remediation project will cost about $8 million in total and construction is expected to begin this summer, after one more open house meeting, said Devco project manager David Mayich.
Some of the properties may be converted to switchgrass production for biofuel or community trails similar to Devco properties in Broughton and Glace Bay, while others will be suitable for residential development.
"When we leave these properties, we want to leave a green field or leave them in residential condition;' Mayich said. "By the end of 2010 we should have all of the construction finished, as it is scheduled now:"
However, he added, some of the sites will have to remain under Crown ownership and will be monitored for 50 years to ensure they don't have any negative effects on the environment.
The Franklyn group consists of five main mine sites in the Florence and Bras d'Or areas. The group totals 24 properties including the mines and lands that were associated with the mines.
"There's about 10 properties that are going to clean up very quickly because there was very little activity on them;' said Mayich.
The Franklyn mine, the largest of the group, operated from 1885-1957 and produced 1.4 million tonnes of coal. The smallest, the Atlantic mine, was the last one to close. It was operated from 1957-1959 and produced only 23,000 tonnes of coal.
Materials cleaned up from the sites will be placed mostly on the Franklyn mine site. Mayich said the Franklyn site will be capped and seeded, and it will be monitored, which should eliminate the current problems with drainage from the site affecting nearby waterways.
"I guarantee when we cap this thing, you'll see a major improvement in Sullivan's Pond;" he said. Earl Cantwell, a resident of nearby Sydney Mines and a member of Citizens Against Strip Mining, said he attended the meeting and received very few answers to detailed questions.
For example, he said, a Devco official told him the Crown corporation's contractors would be responsible for getting the fill needed to clean up the Franklyn properties.
Cantwell said he doesn't want to see illegal quarries used to remove fill from one location to be placed in another.
FLASHBACK: 9 JUNE 2006 - Three days after Devco sold the Prince Mine to Pioneer Coal puting it under provincial jurisdiction, at the Candidates' Debate for Cape Breton North, when NDP candidate Russel MacDonald held up a jug of Acid Mine Drainage from the Prince Mine, MLA Cecil Clarke turned a blind eye and went bezerk when Liberal candidate Fred Tilley pursued the issue and Cecil accused them of fear-mongering.
To this day the provincial government denies there's any Acid Mine Drainage at their Prince Mine "reclamation" project despite the obvious evidence of it being discharged into the watercourses on all sides of the site, and claims the only problem is that "the look is not aesthetically pleasing". While Devco is spending million$ to develop treatment systems using wetlands, the Provincial government is busy blasting them to smithereens asap.
|24 January 2009
CBU chair will work to remediate mine water
BY JOHN MCNEIL
CAPE BRETON POST
SYDNEY - There is enough water flooding the old Devco mines to serve all of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality's water needs for 14 years, Devco president and CEO Ross McCurdy said Friday at an announcement naming Cape Breton University's first Chair of Mine Water Remediation and Management.
"Devco is responsible for 3,200 kilometres of mineworks;" McCurdy said, "and for the most part those mines are flooded with fresh water:"
However, he said, the water is contaminated with the byproducts of pyrite or acid rock, and needs to be brought to the surface and remediated before it can be used.
Researching how to extract and remediate water from the mines will be the task of Dr. Christian Wolkersdorfer, who was announced as the first chair of mine water remediation with the university's department of engineering.
Wolkersdorfer has a Ph.D. in applied geology from Clausthal Technological University in Germany and has 18 years of experience specializing in mine water remediation. Prior to coming to CBU, he held positions at Munich University and Freiberg Mining Academy.
"The first thing is to understand the system; Wolkersdorfer said. "It's a very complicated mine situation with a lot of water and a lot of workings.
"Next, we have to understand the chemistry of the water and then how the water is flowing, where it is coming from and the direction of the flow:"
To learn more about the water, Wolkersdorfer will be conducting trace tests in which a substance such as salt, dye, or small particles are added to the water and their movement is followed.
"The goal is to find the best place where less-polluted water can come to the surface one day, and that's where we pump; he said.
The federal government is contributing $1.7 million over five years through Devco to help fund the research position.
Federal Minister of Natural Resources Lisa Raitt, a Cape Breton native who is the minister responsible for Devco, said the establishment of the chair shows a support in innovation and technology.
"Christian is an internationally distinguished research scientist and wed like to welcome him;' she said. "Congratulations to Devco for establishing the chair and congratulations to CBU for recruiting such a qualified chair.
"It really is about supporting innovation, supporting technology;" she said.
Raitt was born and raised in Whitney Pier and her father, Colin MacCormack worked for Devco for many years and served as an alderman in the former City of Sydney.
"I was a Devco employee myself;' Raitt said. "I had a summer job at Sydport, driving the tractor and mowing the lawn."
Raitt went on to earn a master's degree in environmental toxicology from Guelph University and a law degree from Osgoode Hall.
She was sworn in as minister of natural resources Oct. 30 in Ottawa.
|22 December 2008
RODNEY'S CAPER COVERUP
Just down the road from the lighthouse at Point Aconi, the Environment Department's Inspector hand delivered his response to CASM's Application for Investigation of Coal Hollow Brook and other concerns. As usual, he whitewashes everything everyone can see with their own eyes, while he and the 3 stooges in Halifax won't stand up and do what ought to be done before any more predictable damage is done by their "reclamation" of old mines sites and their failure to require a proper environmental assessment, or monitor for compliance.
Between the whole load of them put together along with DFO and
Environment Canada, NSE's Inspector says they still don't know what the
obvious pollution in Coal Hollow Brook is, or where it's coming from, or
who's reponsible, much less do anything about it:
NSE's Inspector says he never observed the discharge from the culvert
into Morrison/MacDonald Brook during his twice weekly site inspections, so
it never happened:
NSE's Inspector says he never observed the discharge into the ocean
from the unnamed brook, so it never happened either:
NSE's Inspector says the weeky blasts shaking nearby homes are within
his acceptable limits, but finally admits that there has been excessesive
noises even at times when Pioneer's not supposed to be operating during the
night etc., but evidently he does nothing about anything no matter how much
the public complains or how much evidence we provide:
|7 January 2009
4 ENVIRONMENT MINISTERS
IN 4 YEARS!
4 NATURAL RESOURCES MINISTERS
booted Brooke Taylor
1 MLA IN 4 YEARS!
Cecil Clarke - back then the "I have to uphold the letter of
the law and the regulations and legislation" excuse as Minister of Energy,
now Attorney General, Minister of Justice and Human Rights in Rocket
|13 November 2008
Mining conference ignored environmental issues — network
By BRUCE ERSKINE, Business Reporter
Mining may matter in Nova Scotia, but so does the environment, says Tamara Lorincz , executive director of the Nova Scotia Environment Network.
Ms. Lorincz said Wednesday that the recent Mining Matters conference in Halifax ignored the industry’s environmental and social impacts.
"We think it’s a missed opportunity," she said in an interview. "There was no framework on mining and sustainability."
The conference, hosted by the provincial Natural Resources Department, included presentations by Nova Scotia mining companies on their various projects in the province, in other parts of Canada and around the world.
The network’s mining caucus, which expressed concern about a lack of environmental content at last year’s conference, sent a letter to the Natural Resources Department in August asking to be included this year, but the request was turned down.
The caucus represents a dozen environmental and community groups including the Ecology Action Centre, the Sierra Club of Canada, Citizens Against Strip Mining, the Avon Peninsula Watershed Preservation Society, West Annapolis Valley Ecological Society and Eastern Shore Forest Watch.
"We asked for 15 minutes but were told the agenda was set," said Ms. Lorincz, who said the agenda wasn’t posted on the department website at that time.
Jocelyne Rankin, water co-ordinator with the Ecology Action Centre, said the conference should have addressed mining-related issues like groundwater contamination and suggested that more government oversight of the industry is needed.
"There’s a lack of enforcement," she said in an interview. "There needs to be more awareness of environmental issues."
Gretchen Fitzgerald of the Sierra Club’s Atlantic chapter called for a more collaborative and ecological approach to mining in Nova Scotia.
"The mining application and environmental assessment processes need to be improved so that communities can be better informed of mining operations happening in their area," she said in a release.
13 November 2008 - With a humungous pit excavated in the backyard and acid mine drainage flowing into the brooks and fishing grounds under government coverup, Pioneer Coal deals with community opposition so there's no complaints:
FLASHBACK: 25 April 2006 - Two days after CBC's Land and Sea were in town filming an episode on strip mining in the area, the goverment admitted that "there has been some trouble at existing sites that haven’t been reclaimed to their full potential" and announced a Reclamation Study by a panel of experts. DNR presented the following Status Report at the recent Mining Matters Conference in Halifax, to our knowledge they have yet to present it to the people of Cape Breton affected by DNR's claim that our forests and wetlands and wildlife and farming and fishing grounds will eventually return after being raped and pillaged by the mining companies:
9 November 2008
On April 27, 2006, the Nova Scotia Minister of Natural Resources announced the Surface Coal Mine Reclamation Enhancement Initiative, through which a scientific research program would investigate how surface coal mine reclamation projects could be developed to support land-use strategies in Nova Scotia communities. The Minister noted that qualified individuals would be invited to sit on a committee representing industry, academia, government, research organizations and public interest groups. The committee’s mandate included site selections for the study, a review of scientific literature, ecological studies, recommendations for test vegetation plots, planting and monitoring of test plots, public consultation and an action plan for re-integrating mine sites into the local environment.
Over the past three years, work has been accomplished through a collaborative effort of a number of organizations and interested residents. In 2006-07 preliminary site assessments were made on nine former surface mine sites and the committee established parameters for research required to evaluate past reclamation efforts in Cape Breton County. In 2007-08, comprehensive vegetation surveys began and test plots were established to evaluate the ecological response to a variety of vegetation amendments. In 2008- 09, an innovative trail using “buckwheat” as a green-manure to increase organic matter was initiated and soil amendments were applied to accelerate naturally regenerated growth on a previously reclaimed mine site.
To date, the committee has come to the conclusion that previously mined lands will eventually return to an Acadian Forest ecology. The question of how long it will take for various sites to return to a mature or climax forest condition is not certain and will require additional surveys at sites reclaimed several decades ago to help improve predictions.
The committee has also found that other jurisdictions in North America have recently gone through a similar evaluation of surface coal mine reclamation methods and the resulting vegetation and ecology.
The results of studies in other jurisdictions indicate that the common restoration objective of developing a stable, non-eroding grassland cover may, in fact, delay the subsequent succession of trees and other local plant species.
Strip mine foes protest trucks hauling clay
BY NANCY KING
CAPE BRETON POST
POINT ACONI - Strip mining opponents took to a dirt road adjacent to the Nova Scotia Power generating station here Friday to protest huge trucks carrying clay fill from the mine site to the power plant
Jean Sawyer, of Citizens Against Strip Mining, said that about two weeks ago, the contractor began hauling clay fill from the mine site down the dirt road Sherie Lee Lane to the Point Aconi generating station, where it is to be used in the construction of a new ash cell at the site.
Last week, the road was widened. The large, heavy vehicles being used to transport the material have left deep tire impressions and ruts in the road, leaving it quite muddy in areas.
"It wasn't a muddy, torn up dirty track like it is now", Sawyer said.
The text of the order in council dated March 12, 2007 per'nits the lease of 61 hectares of Crown land to Pioneer Coal "to develop and operate a surface coal mine and for no other pur,pose, for a term of 10 years:' There were no subsequent orders in council referring to the project on the provincial government website.
"You can see right here where they're hauling that that's not coal, that's soil, they're taking the soil from the reclamation project off site to the ash dump;' Sawyer said. "Well, when the time comes to reclaim this to its original state, they're not going to have the soil anymore:'
She added the plan to clean up the site once the mine closes is based on factors including the availability of materials. But officials have told her removing the clay fill, also called overburden, from the site doesn't contradict the terms and conditions of the mine's approval. As well, Pioneer Coal can sell off the material as long as the area affected is less than two hectares, under provincial regulations. Environment officials told Sawyer the section is 300 feet by 400 feet, so it falls under that limit.
"That's DNR property - Pioneer Coal was given the lease to it, but it says very specifically in the order in council that it was to develop and operate a surface coal mine and for no other purpose, so it wasn't for the purpose of taking over overburden from here to the Nova Scotia Power plant; Sawyer said.
The guide for surface coal mine reclamation plans developed by the Department of Environment states that top soil should be preserved for reclamation wherever possible and soil quality should be protected during moving and storage.
A portion of the road that runs through the mine site was blocked off to the public last year, but the portion being used this week by the construction trucks was supposed to remain open for public access, Sawyer said, noting the area is home to a popular beach and there are local property owners.
As protesters arrived and parked their cars along the side of the road, a number of the large trucks continued to proceed slowly by, but they eventually came to a stop.
"It's obviously not safe with all of these construction trucks on it;' she said. "As well, because this is a public road, these off-road construction vehicles aren't even allowed on a public road, so that shouldn't be happening either. It's been going on for two weeks now, we can't get an answer from anybody:"
Sawyer said she'd like to see better communication from the mining company and community con- sultation.
Gerard Jessome, district director with the Department of Transportation, said Friday afternoon his office has ordered the contractor to take the vehicles off the road, saying the off-road vehicles carry too much weight to be permitted on public roads. The contractor has asked for permission to grade the road, he added.
Jessome added he will inspect the road on Monday to determine precisely what is required to restore it to its original condition.
Natural Resources spokesperson Dan Davis said staff were made aware of the concerns of residents and are now looking into them. Glennie Langille, spokesperson for NSP, said they've also looked into the concerns briefly and it's the utility's understanding that all appropriate guidelines are being followed.
|Not exactly news, but as the moratorium on "reclamation" expires in a few months, DNR has been giving presentations and tours of its "well reclaimed sites in the area". Found on the web is a report by the Nova Scotia Prospectors Association about its field trip last October led by geologists from the Department of Natural Resources to their "reclamation" sites at Point Aconi and Little Pond and Florence. As always, what DNR says and what local residents see are two completely different stories:|
Bird's Eye view
|"Our field trip started by going to the area around Point Aconi, to see a site that had been reclaimed and did not look any different than the rest of the area, which was great."||
Huh? Where is this reclaimed site that doesn't "look any different than the rest of the area"? Perhaps they mean Pioneer's "reclamation" of the Novaco site completed in 1992 and from DNR’s perspective the site is now well vegetated.
|"Stop two was the power plant at Point Aconi which takes advantage of the local fuel supply. This plant is the most modern thermal generating station in Nova Scotia and provides lower emissions than older plants of similar size."||Huh? The Point Aconi powerplant could not burn the local fuel supply and imports cleaner low sulphur coal and petcoke instead, hence the Prince Mine was closed in 2001. But for the past year, they've been strip mining the high sulphur, high chlorine, high mercury, high ash coal anyway and burning it at the province's power plants and domestic furnaces in violation of the old emission standards much less the new.|
|"Stop 3 was at the Pioneer coal site which is doing a great job with the open pit mining / remediation project. This project is doing away with the sink hole problem while mining the coal out and then returning the site to a better state than it was before they started."||
At the rate DNR's Reclamation Study is going, how many generations will it take to return the Point Aconi site's woodlands and wetlands and wildlife and aquifer to "a better state than it was before"?
|Huh?! What sink
hole problem? DNR's evidence:
What was 65 hectares of healthy coastal Crown land before they started:
is now an open pit over 150 feet deep reportedly filling with salt water intrusion already:
|"Stop 4 was the Lloyd Cove Reclaimed Site. Although there are 11 other well reclaimed sites in the area, this site is held out by activists as an example of reclaimation gone wrong. This site did not look bad anymore. It’s a pity the activists have to use this site and don’t bother showing the other 11 sites where the reclaimation has worked."||Huh? Where's Lloyd Cove?
Perhaps at Brogan's old site at Point Aconi that was "reclaimed" in 1993.
And where are the "11 other well reclaimed sites in the area" pray tell?!!!
Photo by George O’Reilly, DNR
"Stop 5 was the Point Aconi Lighthouse Reclamation. It has a great view of the ocean. (See picture above)"
|Huh? What "reclamation"
at the Point Aconi Lighthouse are DNR's geologists talking about? Good
scott, talk about "twisting of events"!
|"Stop 6 was the Green Hills operation
which was an active pit which showed a lot of old workings that had been
there from the last boot-legged pits. Here we saw how the land was
collapsing because of the old workings."
||This project in Florence was approved in 2000 but was delayed by the need to secure markets. The original time frame was 18 months, but the current plan is to mine approximately 30,000 tonnes of coal annually for four years. A total of 28 acres, excavated to a maximum depth of 60 feet and no blasting involved.|
|"Stop 7 was another reclaimed site in Little Pond. This site had a hard being reclaimed mainly because it met strong opposition from local interest groups who thought nothing should be done. Even though the site was a mess before the reclaimation. This included discarded car bodies and garbage, which was also removed."||
Huh? Local residents fought tooth and nail to get this site cleaned up, ended up with the Environment Department taking Brogan to court and taxpayers paying the price for the final rehabilitation.
Compare the provincial government's "reclamation" of the Prine Mine in Point Aconi with the federal government's "remediation" of the Princess Mine in Sydney Mines in the past year:
12 August 2008
SYDNEY MINES (CP) — Remediation of 40 hectares of the former Princess Mine site in Sydney Mines is on schedule. First Nations Construction is currently grading and seeding about 5.5 hectares at the southwest end of the site. The tender to cap and cover the waste rock pile from decades of coal mining closes on Sept. 9.
It’s expected the new cover will take about 60 weeks to complete.
The area that was the washplant, is now a green area with an interpretative park, walking trails and a pond that can be used for skating in the winter months.
The goal of the remediation program is to leave former mining sites in a stable, safe condition and return them to their former land use or acceptable alternatives.
|August 7, 2008 10:38 AM
Environmental Assessment Regulations Enhanced
Environment Department press release
New amendments to the province's
Environmental Assessment Regulations will make them more clear and allow
better protection of the environment.
April 16, 2008
On Monday, about one hundred people who are involved in the Citizens Against Strip Mining had a public meeting.
At that meeting was the leader of the federal Green Party, Elizabeth May. She suggested that maybe civil disobedience might be the next step for the group.
Here her conversation with CBC here
April 15, 2008
MILLVILLE - About 80 people gathered inside the local community centre, Monday, to express frustration at the fact that an open surface coal mine is operating just a few kilometres away, and several people at the meeting - hosted by Citizens Against Strip Mining suggested they might need to become more militant in their protests.
Meanwhile, Cape Breton Regional Municipality Mayor John Morgan told the crowd the provincial government is treating Cape Bretoners as "second-class citizens" by allowing the mine to proceed in the face of stiff local opposition, and he said the municipal government needs to do everything it can to try to stop strip mining.
Morgan publicly said he intends to have a motion passed by CBRM council authorizing him to. take all steps necessary to oppose strip mining, which he said in an interview afterwards will include taking the provincial government to court.
CASM spokesperson Jean Sawyer said an appeal of the permit that allowed Pioneer Coal Ltd. of Westville to begin mining the former Prince Mine site in Point Aconi was dismissed by the provincial environment minister, and all other avenues of appeal have been exhausted, except launching a court case.
Sawyer said CASM must decide if it wishes to proceed with a court challenge and, if so, it must raise a lot of money.
"We have no dollar figure, but you can bet the government will try and depocket us as quickly, as possible" she said.
"This municipality is facing a broad-based effort by the provincial government, a broad-based assault by the provincial government;" Morgan said. "The municipal government is really the only defence the people of this community has."
He said citizens obviously do not have the financial resources to be able to take a government to court, so the municipal government must step forward.
"It's not a bad thing or a negative thing ... that's what the courts are there for;" Morgan said.
After a presentation by Michelle Symes that included photos of the mining progress and a history of local citizens opposition to it, several politicians voiced their support for CASM, including Morgan, CBRM Councilor Wes Stubbert, Victoria County Councior Fraser Patterson, Conservative MLA for Victoria-The Lakes Keith Bain, and federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May.
A number of residents complained about the dust, noise and especially the blasting from the nearby mine.
"Today was even worse than ever; said Gary MacLean, who lives near the mine site. "A picture fell off my mother's wall and broke."
Val Fulford, who also lives nearby, said since the blasting started, she has spent $1,000 to get rid of water that has flooded her basement and knocked out her furnace.
Several people suggested that the citizens' group might have to start barricading roads to get its' message across.
"If we need to occupy the premier's office to bring the message we won't be silenced, I'll be there;. said Sierra Club member Bruno Marcocchio.
"You know, it may be coming to that point;' agreed CASM treasurer Russell MacDonald.
"I really think were going to have to somehow up it a notch;' said Sharon MacLeod. .
CASM member Donna Stubbert said radical action has been discussed in the past, but the group has tried to focus on positive action.
However, she said, "you have meeting after meeting, rally after rally, and they don't listen. People are frustrated:'
She said CASM will have to have another meeting following the public session in order to discuss its next steps, which could include launching a court appeal and taking stronger protest action.
April 16, 2008
MILLVILLE — Do what you have to do.
That’s what the leader of the federal Green party told a group of citizens here who have been fighting against the province’s decision to allow strip mining on Boularderie Island.
"When I see people who are clearly respectable community leaders . . . in at least (their) middle age standing up and saying they don’t mind going to jail, you know that democracy is letting them down," Elizabeth May said in an interview.
"I would hope they turn to symbolic protests, . . . but I think they know if they’re going to get any government attention, (they’re) going to have to do more.
"They’ve monitored, they’ve written the letters and they’re simply not being listened to. And the failure of their government to listen is pushing them to take more direct action."
About 100 people attended the Monday night meeting organized by Citizens Against Strip Mining, several of whom talked of the damage done to their homes by blasting at the mine.
The citizens group has staged largely peaceful protests in the past, members say, but several residents told the room Monday that they felt it was time to take the gloves off.
The province gave Pioneer Coal Ltd. the green light to clean up the coal deposits left by the abandoned Prince mine in Point Aconi. To do that, the company has been strip-mining the area, a controversial practice that environmental critics have compared to clear cutting trees.
Massive sections of earth are stripped away so that machinery can get at the buried mineral underneath. The soil is later replaced.
The citizens group has met with the provincial environment minister and picketed, group member Earl Cantwell said in an interview.
"There were some people anxious to block the road and do the whole shooting match, . . . but we wanted to explore every legal avenue before it came to that stage," he said.
"But it’s becoming patently obvious that . . . civil disobedience is the only option left. It’s one that we’re averse to taking, but none of us are saying we won’t be taking it."
Mayor John Morgan, however, is still looking for legal loopholes that council can enforce. The mayor said he is completely opposed to the project.
|If you want to get a copy of the government's guidelines for a Community Liaison Committee do you click on a link and type in your search and press Enter and bingo! Or do you call Pioneer Coal's chairman of the CLC?! There's "a major disconnect between what there is and what there should be" and clearly the anonymous CLC does not represent the people of this community, and has not established any dialogue whatsoever on the issues of public concern as required by their Terms of Reference. To wit:|
NOW - MARCH 2008
|Saturday, March 15, 2008
Limited liaison process wasn't first choice
Cape Breton Post
By Paul MACDOUGALL, Chairman of the CLC
Fraser Patterson, District 5 councillor for Victoria County, could have saved himself some time by calling me. I would have provided him with a copy of the guidelines for a community liaison committee which he found on the Internet (`Liaison' a Pale Shadow of Model, Weekend Feedback, March 8).
His description is quite accurate, and I do agree that there is a major disconnect between what there is and what there should be. But this is not the path we wanted to follow; we had no other choice.
Nowhere in that document does it say the members of a CLC are required to put up with being insulted in the media at every turn, or with attempts at harassment, intimidation and vandalism.
Patterson talks about dissolving and replacing the CLC for the Point Aconi project. If he or any other member of the opposition feels qualified to do a better job, why did they all refuse to dignify the CLC selection process by not applying for the committee?
To the best of my knowledge, the opposition was offered a position on the CLC by the minister and it was refused. The verbal diarrhea from the mouths of the opposition is really something to behold. ,
Meanwhile, politicians - whether NDP, Liberal, Conservative or Green - all get on their soap boxes and tell people what they want to hear. The goal for all of them is the same: to get your vote. At the end of the day, they will follow the same policies and procedures to the letter of the law.
So Patterson may go ahead and get the minister to dissolve the CLC or have him reveal the names of our three anonymous members; that will get rid of us for sure. Should that happen, we would all resign, and wouldn't that make opponents happy. The only problem is there would be nobody standing between the people of that area and total disaster.
As for consultations with opposition groups - whether Cape Breton regional municipal council, Sierra Club or whatever - at this -point I would not give them the time of day because they are really not worth the effort.
Believe it our not, our group is putting forth a real effort on this issue in the interests of the people of that area. Painful as it may be right now, if our efforts are successful this area will be fully remediated and reclaimed. Our goal is that the generations coming behind us will be able to say: Good job, guys.
Paul MacDougall of Sydney Mines chairs the community liaison committee for the Point Aconi surface mine operation.
|10 March 2008
Auditor's critique lends support to what many say about environment department
Cape Breton Post
by Jean Sawyer
As stated in the Feb. 29 editorial Sloppy Records Raise Red Flags, the environment is of critical importance. The enormous cost of ignoring environmental effects for the sake of jobs can be seen at the tar ponds and coke ovens, and at mining sites across the Sydney coalfields.
What happens under the Environment Act affects everyone. The public should be able to have confidence in the environment department's performance but the latest auditor general's report echoes everything that everyone familiar with the department (even its own staff) have been saying for years based on first hand experience.
Time and again the people of Boularderie Island, Little Pond and other strip mined communities across this region have seen the minister issue approvals when they should not have been, before specific terms and conditions were met or required financial security obtained, when staff did not verify the accuracy of the proponent's reports and required procedures were not performed, when inspections were not completed and enforcement actions were inadequate to ensure compliance, and when complaints were not followed up.
If the Department of Environment and Labour is this "sloppy" 16 years after the Westray mine disaster, how much faith can one have when putting one's life on the line mining under the sea at Donkin?
The auditor general's report on the Environment Department ought to be ringing alarm bells, before instead of after any more irreparable damage is done.
In a democracy the public has every right to be infuriated by a bureaucracy and a cabinet and premier of a minority government who continue to ignore the concerns and wishes of the overwhelming majority in a regional municipality of more than 100,000 people who know what they're talking about from generations of experience.
Sloppy records is no excuse for all the things the environment department did not know about Point Aconi before issuing approval to strip mine healthy woodlands and wetlands at the mouth of the Bras d'Or Lakes under the pretext of cleaning up, especially considering the mountain of submissions from the public and our elected representatives from all levels of government and political parties and community groups to this day.
By all accounts, if things had been done right this strip mine would not have been approved.
Instead, everything the auditor general says about the environment department is happening here and elsewhere across the province.
The public has every reason to have a lack of faith in a department that believes such errors and omissions have not resulted in negative impacts to public health or the environment.
One look at the destruction going on at Point Aconi and the steady stream of trucks full of high-sulphur coal headed for Nova Scotia Power Inc.'s high polluting power plants tells quite a different story at this first of 14 proposed strip mines across the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.
At a recent meeting, the environment department's executive director passed the buck and said this was a political decision by cabinet. Under the environment act, everything is at the minster's discretion.
An independent public review of strip mining in Cape Breton could take a deeper and more relevant measure of the quality of the department's performance than the past three years of pickets and parades of concern, and rallies at the Big Fiddle and House of Assembly, and public town halls and meetings with municipal councilors, mayor, MLAs and MPs and First Nations elders, tours to environment ministers and reporters and interested groups, and all the appeals and applications and petitions under the Environment Act, and letters and websites put together have been able to do.
Last month regional council moved unanimously to request an independent review, with a moratorium in the meantime. Victoria County Council has aked for a review, area MPs and First Nations representatives support that, opposition parties in the House of Assembly have called for an independent review of strip mining coal on Boularderie Island and two of the region's PC MLAs support that.
Obviously there is a lot of merit to the criticisms of Nova Scotia's environmental stewardship, and ignoring them will not solve the problems.
The auditor general's scathing report echoes what Cape Breton's Citizens Against Strip Mining and others have been saying and is all the more reason for an independent review, not just of this project, but of the department's assessment, approval and compliance process across the province.
Given the lessons of more than 300 years of coal mining history, we ought to be world leaders in how to do it right instead of still doing it all wrong, refusing to consult or inform the community while pandering to the mining companies.
Our grandchildren will have every right to ask: "What did you do to try and prevent such ill-conceived destruction of our environment and the costs to our health and to clean it up?"
How many jobs should have been created doing just that instead of making more of a mess?
If Nova Scotia's minister of environment is too busy preaching energy in Abu Dhabi and studying ethanol during carnival in Brazil to know what's going on in his own department, perhaps the auditor general should order the independent review and call the moratorium.
Jean Sawyer of Big Bras d'Or on behalf of Citizens Against Strip Mining
|8 March 2008
'Liaison' a pale shadow of model
By Fraser Patterson
Cape Breton Post
Liaison means communication between bodies, groups, or units, according to Reader'.s Digest Dictionary, 1987.
I have been publicly silent for a while on strip mining for coal at Point Aconi but recently I have had some calls from residents requesting that Victoria County Council lend our voice to a call for an independent review. After much discussion, we did approve such a motion.
I then did some research on the Community Liaison Committee for the Point Aconi project and found on the environment department's website the document, Guidelines for the Formation of a CLC. There seems to a major disconnect between what there is and what should be.
The document says: "-Community representatives provide an avenue for the exchange of information on the project to interested individuals" It refers to "consultation between the proponent and the residents of the area" and notes that a CLC is "a bodv representative of the community."
Further, it says: "It is the proponent's responsibility to hold an organizational meeting with any interest ed parties to determine the make-up and mandate of the committee.... The committee shall ensure that the views of the committee are made available to the public in an appropriate manner. This could include the posting of minutes in a public place in the affected area or the provision of minutes to interested parties. ...Notice of the formation of said committee shall be made known to the residents and include a list of committee members."
I ask the minister, Mark Parent, which of these gruidelines if any are being followed in the workings of the present CLC.
We elected people toss around the word transparency all the time. It is easv to say it but the real test is how we practice it.
We and the minister have to make decisions that not everyone agrees with, but our democracy demands that we give everyone a chance to have a voice.
There will always be opposition. but that does not give us the right to set up committees that are supposed to be accountable to the public but aren't.
If the people on the CLC want to be anonymous, they have no business serving on it Both I and the minister choose to run for office and we have no expectation that we can hide from the voters. I ask him do the right thing and set up a real CLC as described in the guidelines.
N. Fraser Patterson of Ross Ferry is District 5 councillor in Victoria County.
6 March 2008
NEW WATERFORD — Residents upset by digging on a former Devco property in this Cape Breton community say run-off from the work is going into the ocean and threatening their well water.
"We are worried about the environmental impact to the ocean and our wells," Rob Tonary, who lives on MacLellan Drive, said Wednesday.
"There is nothing there to catch the silt."
Residents took their concerns this week to Enterprise Cape Breton.
Tonary said the development agency told them they will look into the matter and do an assessment, but "I told them they are a month and a half too late."
He said the digging is uncovering such things as old boxcars and the soil where digging has taken place is black.
"There are swamps and bogs here. I have taken pictures and shown them to the New Waterford Fish and Game Association."
Tonary is one of a group of residents who have submitted a tender to Enterprise Cape Breton to purchase 29 hectares of former Devco property that borders their properties.
The residents, worried about strip mining, want it preserved as a green space.
"Once they take the trees out, it will take hundreds of years to get them back," said Lorne MacLellan, another resident.
MacLellan said if the residents acquire the land, the community will be welcome to enjoy it as well.
Bill Pembroke, president of the New Waterford Fish and Game Association, was contacted by the residents and visited the site.
He said there is mud and water running from the land into a brook and into Lingan Bay.
"We are disgusted with what is going on out in this area," Pembroke said. "The association will be staying on top of this."
D.A. Landry, spokesperson for Enterprise Cape Breton, said soil is being taken from the site to use at an old mine site where remediation work is underway.
"They brought all their concerns to our attention. We agreed to get someone to look into this and get back to them ASAP," he said.
On February 27, 2008 the Auditor General released a scathing report on the Environment Department but where on earth is Nova Scotia's Environment Minister Mark Parent?
Last year between sittings of the House of Assembly, Mark went on junkets to Trinidad and Tobago and Scotland.
Last month, courtesy of Peter MacKay's ACOA, Mark could be found at the Nova Scotia Department of Environment & Labour - Canada pavilion at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, which according to the website's logo, was held "Under the Patronage of H.H. General Sheikh Mohammad bin ayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces", no doubt with Peter's sister looking over Mark's shoulder all the way.
Then on February 28, 2008 an article in the Chronicle Herald about the federal budget finds Mark in Brazil, "where he is vacationing in the Amazon after a trip to learn more about ethanol".
Boondoggle of the Day: Canadian Pork 2008-02-27 3:30pm PT
Here's hoping that Canadian Environmental Minister Mark Parent is still "studying the further benefits of ethanol" in Brazil when the research is complete, so we can enjoy his complete embarrassment when the studies confirm that GM's spin is just that, and ethanol really is the...
29 February 2008
The province’s handling of a recent mumps outbreak stole the headlines this week after Nova Scotia’s auditor general was critical of the government’s performance on this file. But a second theme in the AG’s semi-annual report was of more interest to the many Nova Scotians who’ve locked horns in one way or another with the Department of Environment and Labour.
Jacques Lapointe and staff found numerous problems when they rifled the files of the Environmental Monitoring and Compliance Division which has key responsibilities for approving, inspecting and where necessary enforcing compliance with environmental rules at some 3,300 operations around the province. These include hazardous materials handling facilities and open pit mines.
A paper audit of this kind is sure to find problems in a complex bureaucracy but the impression from this section of the report is that the sloppiness in the records is well sufficient to shake public confidence in the quality of the division’s performance. The division cannot ensure compliance with the Environment Act, the report observes at one point, if enforcement procedures are ineffective, where there is lack of follow-up, and when non-punitive measures are repeatedly employed to no effect.
This is an audit of paperwork, and an incomplete file is not proof that a problem was not adequately resolved. But as the auditor general points out, managers can’t effectively assess the performance of their inspectors when the records don’t tell them all they need to know.
In its response, the department notes that “although errors and omissions in implementing policies and procedures have occurred, there is no indication from either the audit or from the department’s experience that these errors and omissions have resulted in negative impacts to public health or the environment.” The auditor, however, would have no way of knowing about any “negative impacts” unless by accident, or unless some particular file told that story.
Premier Rodney MacDonald pledged his government will take all the “appropriate measures” Lapointe recommends, though the auditor general also complains about the province’s poor record on implementing past recommendations from the auditor general’s office.
But the government needs to get beyond the minutiae of record-keeping and the design of forms to look at the reputation of the department 16 years after the Westray mine disaster destroyed the public’s faith in this province’s regime for regulating workplace health and safety, a function closely related to the one under scrutiny here. Much has been done to improve these functions yet the department often comes under bitter attack over its handling of projects such as quarries and mines.
Is there any merit to these criticisms or is it just that people are infuriated when the bureaucracy, applying the law as it’s written, refuses to block something a community doesn’t want? Let’s apply Lapointe’s remedies for a start but also consider how we could take a deeper and more relevant measure of the quality of this department’s performance in an area of critical importance.
May 18, 2006
Premier Rodney MacDonald said in an interview with the Cape Breton Post, Wednesday, that he has taken a number of steps to address concerns raised by people who don't want strip mining on Cape Breton... At the end of the day, this issue is about cleaning up those sites and finding the best way to do it and in the environmentally right way as well, the premier said... "We are committed, we've 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.".. A three year moratorium on other sites is now in place "to show this site can be done right."
|28 February 2008
The semi-annual report by Nova Scotia's Auditor General released on 27 February 2008 corroborates the concerns that Citizens Against Strip Mining have been voicing for years about the province's flawed environmental assessment and compliance process that approved strip mining coal in Cape Breton.
The Auditor General found that approvals were given when they should not have been, the Environment Department did not verify the accuracy and reliability of the proponent's reports, approvals were issued before the specific terms and conditions were met, required financial security was not obtained, required documents were not provided, required procedures were not performed, required inspections were not completed, enforcement actions were inadequate to ensure compliance, complaints were not followed up on, etc., etc.
One look at the destruction taking place at the mouth of the Bras d'Or Lakes in Point Aconi proves that these errors and omissions have indeed resulted in negative impacts to public health and the environment for decades to come.
To date, the Minister of Environment has not even acknowledged our community's request for a public independent review of strip mining coal in Cape Breton despite the urgings from our elected representatives from all levels of government and political parties.
In light of the Auditor General's scathing report on the Environment Department about these issues, we are asking the Minister to order a review of strip mining Point Aconi without any further inexcusable delay.
Citizens Against Strip Mining
|27 February 2008
Auditor General Issues Semi-annual Report
Nova Scotia Auditor General Press Release
Failure to follow school bus safety procedures, poor protection of the environment, and questionable handling of vaccines were among the items that caught the attention of the auditor general last year and drew his critical comment in a report issued today, Feb. 27.
The semi-annual report released by Auditor General Jacques Lapointe contains findings of audits conducted in the last half of 2007 and early 2008.
Excerpts from Auditor General's Report:
Excerpts from NSEL's response:
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
The provincial Environment Department is doing a poor job of monitoring or inspecting industrial sites, dangerous goods and environmentally sensitive areas, Nova Scotia's auditor general said.
In his semi-annual report released Wednesday, Jacques Lapointe said policies and procedures are inadequate, information is incomplete and sometimes enforcement is ineffective.
Lapointe said that given the critical nature of the Environment Department's work, he was surprised by what he found.
"Our audit found cases in which approvals were given that should not have been, cases of no or inadequate inspection, and poor follow-up to see that deficiencies had been corrected," he said.
In fact, the auditor general said that in one of the four regions in the province, 42 per cent of industrial and dangerous goods sites were overdue for inspections.
The report also concluded that inspection processes are not adequate enough to ensure compliance with the Environment Act.
The auditor examined 60 cases where inspectors visited industrial sites to monitor industrial and dangerous goods. It found that in 16 cases risk assessments weren't documented, and in 23 cases the auditors couldn't find evidence of proper follow-up inspections.
Lapointe also said there should be a provincewide system to track complaints.
The department's response to his report said that although errors may have been made, "there is no indication that they have resulted in a negative impact to public health or the environment."
Nova Scotia Premier Rodney MacDonald said the recommendations will be studied carefully, and vowed to make improvements.
"We'll have to take a look at each and every recommendation on its own merit, and if appropriate measures need to be taken, we'll take them," the premier said.
But the auditor general also criticized the government for not following through on about 60 per cent of the suggestions he made two years ago.
|1 February 2008
Environmental groups decry Nova Scotia's embrace of mining projects
by Alison Auld
The Canadian Press
HALIFAX - The Nova Scotia government has failed to ensure that newly approved mining operations won't cause serious environmental damage, several groups charged Friday as the province sanctioned a disputed gold venture.
The activists, representing dozens of forestry and other ecological groups throughout the province, accused the government of allowing mining companies to skirt environmental assessments by flouting regulations.
"There are significant and social risks that the government has ignored," said Tamara Lorincz of the Nova Scotia Environmental Network.
"There are many more pits and quarries planned without a comprehensive development framework in place and our communities and natural environment are at stake."
The groups said the province is so hungry to drum up business and lure mining companies that it's letting them avoid independent environmental reviews.
|January 29, 2008 - A delegation of
eight residents met for over an hour with staff of NSEL’s Environmental
Monitoring and Compliance Division in Sydney in a meeting arranged by
Premier MacDonald to discuss our concerns regarding their “progressive
rehabilitation” of Point Aconi. Among other things, we were told to:
1) Call Pioneer Coal’s site manager Michael Jessome if your home or property is being damaged by the blasting and strip mining, it’s not NSEL’s responsibility so they’re not involved, it’s between the home owner and the mining company
2) Call Devco to find out where the underground workings go that Pioneer Coal is pumping the acid mine drainage into, NSEL’s Environmental Monitoring and Compliance staff don’t know and don’t care, it's not their responsibility
3) Call DFO if there’s brooks discharging “orange precipitate” into our fishing grounds, it’s not NSEL’s responsibility to monitor or test it or do anything about it, they know nothing and don’t care
4) Call the Environmental Assessment Branch in Halifax to find out what concerns were expressed during what passed for public consultation, neither the Sydney staff nor NSEL’s Executive Director looked at any of the information, it's not their responsibility
5) Call the Department of Natural Resources to find out the status of mining activity in the Boularderie Resource Block. Bulk samples less than 100 tons or that does not meet their definition of a “mine” do not require an environmental assessment so NSEL staff know nothing about it, it’s not their responsibility
6) Call the Minister’s office in Halifax about our community’s call for an independent review that we asked to be on the agenda for this meeting but NSEL’s Sydney staff and Executive Director still know nothing about
7) Call the Premier and ask him why Pioneer Coal’s strip mine was approved despite majority opposition to the environmental consequences. According to NSEL’s Executive Director it was a political decision made by Cabinet (long before what passes for an environmental assesment)
8) Don’t dare ask NSEL’s Executive Director what do you do, how do you protect our environment for us if you know nothing and do nothing when the public asks you to? He’ll “really object to that” and “find it offensive” and start yelling and banging his fist on the table!
How many more reasons for an independent review and for revisions to this flawed process does it take for a minority government to listen to the concerns of the overwhelming majority and act honourably and responsibly?
January 26, 2008
BY FRANK CORBETT
I thank the members of Citizens Against Strip Mining for their years of hard work and I offer the support of the Nova Scotia NDP in their efforts to have an independent review of strip mining carried out on Boularderie Island.
MLA Gordie Gosse (Cape Breton Nova) and I have continually supported the hard work being done by CASM.
Our leader, Darrell Dexter, and numerous fellow NDP members of the legislature have visited the site, met with group members, and raised the issue in the legislature.
We will continue to raise the issue in the House.
The NDP brought forth legislation in the past to halt strip mining, and called it for debate.
The Conservatives, who control the agenda of the legislature, have refused to call it for a vote.
Contrary to some misinformation, only the government can call a bill for a vote, and without a vote our legislation died on the order paper.
It was also the NDP, through Gosse, who submitted this issue for debate during the last sitting of the legislature.
It is telling that not a single Cape Breton Conservative spoke during that debate.
Last week, Councillor Darren Bruckschwaiger called the Cape Breton Regional Municipality's decision to support CASM's request for an independent review a wake-up call for the provincial opposition parties to force the Conservatives to act and call a review. This statement is naive in its disregard for the rules of the House.
I have had conversations with Conn. Bruckschwaiger in the past in which I tried to explain how a minority legislature works.
The movement of legislation through the House of Assembly is controlled 100 per cent by Premier Rodney MacDonald's Conservatives. The councillor can call on the party he ran for in the last election to bring this issue to a formal vote.
While he is at it, perhaps he and the MLA for Cape Breton-The Lakes, Keith Bain, could heed the wake-up call and ask the premier and his environment minister why the people Boularderie Island were not given the same treatment as those in Digby Neck who opposed the quarry or those in Shortts Lake who fought the burning of tires.
Why do the Conservatives treat Cape Bretoners like second-rate citizens?
January 26, 2008
POINT ACONI - Gary MacLean says he's saddled with a house he will never be able to sell.
The chasm sitting across the street has destroyed his home's value, he said.
"Who would ever want to live here?" he asked, gesturing at the land being strip-mined about 500 metres away. "You're never going to sell your house."
The province gave Pioneer Coal Ltd. the green light to clean up the coal deposits left by the abandoned Prince mine near Mr. MacLean's home. To do that, the company has been strip-mining the area, a controversial practice that environmental critics have compared to clear cutting trees.
Massive sections of earth are stripped away so that machinery can get at the buried minerals underneath. The soil is later replaced, but disturbing its natural layers makes it harder for new plants to take root.
Cape Breton regional council voted recently to pressure the province to do a full environmental assessment on the effect that the practice is having on the land.
But Mr. MacLean said he doesn't expect that will do him much good.
"The little people like us aren't going to matter one little bit," he said. "You have to be well-connected to do anything."
He bought his house in 1977, along with about a hectare of land. The house was assessed at about $45,000 five years ago. Mr. MacLean could not say what it would be worth now.
The former fisherman said he complained to Pioneer Coal about the damage the blasting has done to his home. The last blast rocked the house to its foundations, he said, shaking it so hard his dishes rattled and a 1.5-metre crack appeared in the ceiling of his entryway.
He's still waiting for someone to come out and look at it.
The company tries to respond to any complaints as quickly as possible, Ed Gillis said.
The environmental consultant for Pioneer Coal's sister company, Nova Construction, was out Thursday monitoring the noise and dust levels. Those results are also checked over by the Environment Department to make sure they fall within provincial guidelines. Nothing has been over the limit so far, Mr. Gillis said.
But the dust blowing off the mine in the summertime has affected one of the street's youngest residents. Joe MacLean, Gary's brother, said that his six-year-old granddaughter stayed inside most of last summer because the dust blowing off the pit made the little girl's asthma flare up.
"Misery is what it's been," he said. "You couldn't even look out there (because of) the dust - it'd tear your eyes out."
The dust hasn't been a serious problem during the winter, he said. The crab fisherman said he's more worried now about what the blasting will do to the lobster population near the mouth of Bras d'Or Lake.
Wilf Isaac said he shares that concern.
The environmental activist has been involved with the fishing industry on Cape Breton Island for more than 20 years.
That sort -of seismic activity could scare off the lobsters or affect their mating habits, he said.
"We'll just have to wait until the spring and see what happens."
January 24, 2008 - After CBRM Council unanimously passed a motion calling on the anonymous Community Liaison Committee to hold a public meeting, the CLC's chairman Paul MacDougall wrote to Mayor Morgan praising Pioneer Coal and the jobs strip mining provides while refusing to have a public meeting or with Council until there's "a severe attitude change toward this CLC." Below is Mayor Morgan's repsonse to MacDougall, cc'd to Environment Minister Parent and Point Aconi's MLA Cecil Clarke:
----- Original Message -----
Thank you for your e-mail in response to the questions posed during the most recent meeting of CBRM Council. I note your commentary that you do not oppose distribution of the e-mail to the individuals referenced in it and, thus, I have forwarded your comments to the individuals concerned.
From my perspective, I want to emphasize my perception that the overwhelming majority of the citizens of this region oppose strip mining of coal due to the environmental impacts which have been well-detailed. I am concerned that the secret committee may be providing a false impression to government officials that the community supports the actions of Pioneer Coal. I hope your committee will make it clear to the Minister that the municipal government and the citizens of this region oppose the actions of Pioneer Coal and also oppose any expansion of the coal strip mining operation to other locations within our region.
I have noted that the provincial government discontinued similar operations in Digby in response to community opposition. It is regrettable that the provincial government does not respond to the wishes of the citizens of this region to have their environment protected in a similar manner.
I do want to thank you for taking the time to respond to the inquiries during our Council meeting and I hope your committee will clearly communicate the opposition of the residents of this region to the strip mine during your meetings with the Minister of Environment and Labour.
Mayor John W. Morgan
Do you support the call for
January 17, 2008
SYDNEY — Cape Breton regional council has given its support to a group of people determined to shut down a controversial strip mine in Boularderie Island.
Council will pressure the province to do an independent review of the environmental effects of strip mining. The motion passed unanimously Tuesday night after a presentation by members of Citizens Against Strip Mining.
The province approved the strip mining on the understanding that Pioneer Coal Ltd. would clean up the abandoned coal deposits left by the Prince mine. The coal that comes from the empty pits is sold to Nova Scotia Power, but opponents say the high-sulphur coal would be considered unfit to burn under certain international emission standards. People are also concerned about groundwater contamination.
The province gave the project a green light without undergoing a full environmental study, a spokesman for the lobby group told council.
"At stake . . . is our water supply, our fishing grounds, our farms, our homes, our children’s future, our communities (and) our natural resources," Earl Cantwell said.
A three-year strip mining moratorium the province placed on another 13 sites also owned by Cape Breton Development Corp. across the municipality will expire this year
January 16, 2008
SYDNEY - An anti-strip mining group convinced Cape Breton Regional council Tuesday night to put pressure on the provincial government to request a full independent review of the province's, decision to enter into an agreement with Pioneer Coal Ltd. to strip mine on Boularderie Island.
Citizens Against Strip Mining spokesperson Earl Cantwell said the three-year moratorium the province placed on 13 coal leases formerly owned by the Cape Breton Development Corp. will soon expire, leaving communities throughout the CBRM at risk of having strip mining in their neighbourhoods. The motion was also a wake-up call for the provincial opposition parties to force the minority government to act and call an independent review, Coun. Darren Bruckschwaiger said.
Council also requested that a public meeting be held soon with the Citizen Liaison Committee, a group of anonymous individuals who were appointed to act as an intermediary between Pioneer Coal and the residents of the area.
January 15, 2008 - Citizens Against Strip Mining gave a 5 minute presentation to the Regional Municipality of Cape Breton Council meeting calling for support for an independent review. Eskasoni First Nations elder Albert Marshall also spoke. Council spent almost an hour discussing it with 7 Councilors speaking on the matter and all commending us, the Mayor asked a few questions.
CBRM Council moved a motion to: (1) request a public independent review of strip mining coal in Cape Breton as was done with the proposed quarry in Digby Neck; (2) request further strip mining be stopped; (3) request the project’s Community Liaison Committee to meet with the public and address the concerns of the community; (4) to send a copy of Council's decision to the MLAs and MPs. The vote was unanimous: 17 to 0!
December 31, 2007 - CASM letter to Premier MacDonald
|THURSDAY, DECEMBER 13, 2007
OPPOSITION CALLS FOR AN INDEPENDENT REVIEW OF STRIP MINING CAPE BRETON
HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY
DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS
ENVIRON. & LBR.
- BOULARDERIE ISLAND/POINT ACONI:
MR. GORDON GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure that I rise tonight, or maybe it is not a pleasure that I rise tonight, on this late debate topic on strip mining in Point Aconi and Boularderie Island. I think they call it cleaning up the past mining and I think there has been a little bit of quickness on this government to go ahead and move forward with this project, just days before this land was turned over from Devco to the province, days before. Why this was done days before it turned over, it meant that the federal government's responsibility for the cleanup of the former Devco lands would not have to take place, because jurisdiction for onshore coal and onshore mineral rights belong to the Province of Nova Scotia.
So right now, the responsibility - the money was there from the feds, I think at one time it was $6.6 million but, Mr. Speaker, they move ahead with the project anyway. There has been no accountability to the people of Point Aconi and there has been no accountability to the people; 72 per cent of the residents in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality voted against strip mining in Cape Breton.
AN HON. MEMBER: 72 per cent?
MR. GOSSE: 72 per cent; 100 per cent of the residents in the communities that are most affected by strip mining, voted against this proposal, Mr. Speaker. Let's just say, is there anybody on that side of the House who is listening to these people?
AN HON. MEMBER: I don't think so.
|Saturday, 8 December 2007
Province has stacked deck to protect strip mining
Whole process should go to independent review
Cape Breton Post - Weekend Feedback
By Jean Sawyer
Any comparison and contrast between Environment Minister Mark Parent's approval to strip mine coastal Crown woodlands and wetlands at the mouth of the Bras d'Or Lakes at the first of 14 proposed sites, while rejecting the quarry in Digby Neck, should consider the facts (Editorial: Green Issues Raise Questions, Dec. 1).
Shortly after Pioneer Coal submitted its application for industrial approval to strip mine for coal, Devco turned over the Prince Mine in Point Aconi to provincial jurisdiction. This was just days before the project would have become subject to federal environmental assessment. The federal government does not have jurisdiction over onshore mines or provincial Crown land.
Onshore coal is a mineral resource under provincial jurisdiction, and the province's approval process does not provide for an independent review panel or advisory committee.
Under the provincial process, the mineral rights granted by the Department of Natural Resources give a company the right to mine. The rubber-stamping environment department did not even review Devco's environmental assessment of the Prince Mine before issuing its approval to Pioneer Coal's strip mine, and then squelched the report under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
Nova Scotia's Environment Act does not allow for an appeal at the environmental approval stage. There is no public consultation at the industrial assessment stage. It's not until after the industrial approval has been issued that the act allows for an appeal of the decision.
Like quarrying Digby Neck or burning tires in Brookfield, the decision is entirely at the minister's discretion and is based more on political than environmental concerns.
Without the benefit of an independent review panel or advisory committee, or an MLA who'd even listen, Boularderie Island residents had to use other means available to try to stop the destruction of Point Aconi. This included many rallies and public meetings attended by hundreds, and presentations and petitions to municipal councils, MLAs and MPs. Proposed legislation was introduced to stop strip mining, the federal government was approached, and formal appeals and applications were made to the minister under the provincial Environment Act. There were countless news reports and letters to the editor, all documented on a website at www.c-a-s-m.org for almost three years now.
A 2007 investigation launched by concerned residents under Section 115 of the Environment Act found that the public's submissions, the views of experts, and government's own studies were all ignored - and the environment department did nothing to verify any of the information provided by the proponent.
Thus, Mr. Parent did not know about the acid mine drainage and leakage from the settling ponds, did not know about the long list of toxic materials at the site, and did not know about Devco's $6.6 million estimate to clean up the Prince before issuing his approval. And apparently he still does not know.
Because the minister did nothing to verify the information provided to him, he did not know where the mining blocks were or about the brook along the shore or the wetlands next to the settling ponds until after they were destroyed - and only then because of the public's own monitoring and application for investigation.
Clearly this community has presented an "appropriate, strong, reasoned opposition" (a phrase from a Digby Neck quarry opponent, quoted in the Dec. 1 editorial) while the government and its political patrons have presented no reasoned support at all for their actions - nor have they presented any evidence that strip mining can and is being done responsibly.
The obvious evidence to the eye indicates quite the contrary. The environment department's monitoring and compliance inspector admits "exemptions" are being made for Pioneer Coal.
Unlike the Digby Neck review, where all information was public, the province's Section 115 investigation of the Point Aconi project found that the environmental assessment and approval process was flawed. But the report, along with aerial photos and other information that ought to be public, is also being squelched under the information and privacy act.
While Devco is looking for experts to build acid mine drainage treatment facilities at its sites, the province will not acknowledge the problem at the Prince and is hiding that data under the information and privacy act too.
Would strip mining Point Aconi have been approved if there had been an independent review panel or advisory committee?
In all fairness, Mr. Parent should hold an independent review of the assessment, approval, monitoring and compliance process at Pioneer Coal's strip mine at Point Aconi. Anything less comes up short and indicates a double standard that is a disservice to this region. The situation will only get worse if this flawed process, based on insufficient information and false claims, is allowed to continue.
If nothing changes and there's another costly environmental mess on our hands, it won't be because concerned citizens of the area didn't try to stop it. It will be because those with the power did not act honourably or responsibly.
Jean Sawyer lives in Black Rock and is a member of Citizens Against Strip Mining Boularderie Island.
December 2, 2007
Sydney physician and erstwhile Green Party candidate Chris Milburn succinctly expresses a view that is current in this area in the wake of two recent decisions by Nova Scotia Environment Minister Mark Parent. Residents of Digby Neck protested against a proposed coastal basalt quarry while people in the Brookfield area, near Truro, came out against the idea of burning used tires as fuel in a cement kiln. Parent has stopped both projects, but not Boularderie strip mining. “I guess we know how much Halifax values our opinions and our environment,” Milburn concludes (Environmental Protests Succeed Elsewhere Than in Boularderie, Letters, Nov. 27).
Milburn is not alone in seeing a discrepancy between the mainland and Cape Breton situations, but is his implied explanation correct that community opinion and environmental concerns on the other side of the Strait simply get a better hearing from decision-makers? There may be something to this, though it’s less an answer than a series of questions. Why would such a bias exist? What would be the source of it and what could be done about it? It’s obvious, though, that particular characteristics of the projects and communities figure in an as well.
Opponents of the Digby Neck quarry and terminal achieved foundation for their victory when a joint federal-provincial panel was appointed to do the environmental review. The review report’s firm recommendation against the project is believed to be unprecedented in Canada but it’s hard to imagine Parent stopping the quarry if the panel had not bundled him into so tight a straitjacket.
Similarly, Parent’s decision not to allow worn-out tires to be burned as fuel, at least for now, but to continue shipping them off to Quebec (where most of them are burned anyway) follows the recommendation of a committee he appointed outside government to study this. The province had no specific policy on the subject when the Lafarge Cement scheme was proposed in January.
By contrast, strip mine opponents were never able to move their issue outside of provincial line departments to a more “independent” review process. Hopes of getting the federal government involved came to nothing.
One might add, perhaps, that on the simple merits of each case, the quarry and the tire-burning schemes deserved to fail while surface mining (or reclamation, as the government likes to call it) is familiar and well understood, and can be done responsibly even if there are sorry examples of where it hasn’t been in the past. Besides all this, there is, crucially, the communities and how they’ve pursued their causes. Don Mullin of the Partnership for the Sustainable Development of Digby Neck and Islands Society, saw the quarry result giving residents hope of fairness if you mount “appropriate, strong, reasoned opposition.” Has Cape Breton’s anti-strip mining lobby come up short on one or more of these adjectives?
It’s telling that in Digby Neck Liberal Harold (Junior) Theriault defeated Tory cabinet minister Gordon Balser in the June 2006 general election because of the quarry issue, at least in part. On the Northside, by contrast, Tory MLA Cecil Clarke, strongly identified as a defender of Boularderie strip mining, increased his margin of victory from 585 votes in 2003 to 2,090 last year, nearly doubling his nearest opponent. Halifax, the mainland, didn’t do that. The voters of Cape Breton North did.
----- Original Message -----
Thank you for your correspondence of November 1, 2007, entitled "Your progressive rehabilitation of Point Aconi" concerning the Pioneer Coal surface mine and reclamation project at Point Aconi, Cape Breton County, along with your further correspondence of November 10th and 25th.
It is my understanding that staff of the Department's Environmental Monitoring and Compliance Division in Sydney will be arranging a meeting with you to discuss your concerns regarding the matter. I expect you will be hearing from Roger Munroe, Regional Manager, Sydney office, in the very near future.
Thank you for taking the time to write to me. Your interest in this matter is appreciated. Sincerely,
Rodney J. MacDonald, Premier
November 21, 2007 - SOS Rallies
November 22, 2007
SYDNEY – Citizens gathered here in an effort to send out a distress call over what they say is a lack of government environmental stewardship, Wednesday.
More than 50 people staged the Speak Out in Solidarity protest in front of the Department of Environment offices on Charlotte Street. The protest was one of several planned across the province.
“We are hoping to show the government that the whole of Nova Scotia has to be listened to, the people have to be listened to,” said Christiane Tanner, one of the local organizers.
“Deals are done that we don’t know anything abut. The opposition has no say and we have no power. They don’t follow the rules and when there are rules, they don’t follow them.”
According to Tanner, the recently cancelled quarry near Digby Neck and strip mining at Point Aconi have communities struggling to protect coastlines, wetlands and forests from the effects of business interests intent on taking valuable resources without consideration for the integrity of habitat, or the wishes and needs of local residents.
“I think the public is ready to send a message to government that they do take care of the environment in their actions, not just their words,” said Tanner.
We’re trying to send a message to government that we want a say on what is going on in our communities,” added organizer Michelle Symes.
“We want a say in how our environment is treated and we want to be heard.”
Locally, the concern is over strip mining, which continues even while other projects in the province have been cancelled.
“The environment minister has cancelled two projects just this week that he doesn’t see as environmentally fit to go ahead with, when here on Boularderie Island he has the power to cancel this strip mining project whenever he sees fit and he’s chosen not to do that,” said Symes.
While the province-wide protest came together in just two weeks, both Symes and Tanner believe it is just the beginning as the public looks for more accountability from their elected officials.
“We’re all in this together, we’re all in the same boats in our communities,” said Symes.
“We jut want a voice in our communities. We want government to listen to us and we want to be heard.
“We’re standing up and yelling out as loud as we can for the government to hear us.”
November 22, 2007
AMIDST CHANTS and a street theatre demonstration, about 30 protesters gathered outside Province House Wednesday to bring attention to climate change and other environmental issues.
"I’ve seen the future and it’s death," shouted protester Peter Zimmer.
During the skit, the protesters repeatedly tried to wake up a sleeping politician, warning him of the dangers facing the world.
The event was meant to coincide with today’s opening of the legislature.
Protests were held in Windsor, Sydney, Digby, Kentville, Trenton and Yarmouth.
"There’s no shortage of solutions," says Brendan Haley of the Ecology Action Centre. "There’s almost too many. What we need is to start implementing these solutions."
He says individuals can improve the energy efficiency of their homes and businesses, and eat more local food.
The provincial government has done a good job at promoting local food consumption, he says.
Steve Brayton of Halifax attended the rally and is concerned about Nova Scotia’s coastline. He also lives in Sandy Cove, Digby County.
"We have such an incredibly beautiful coastline in Nova Scotia and I think it would be an absolute tragedy to just sell it all off to foreign interests, and have them come and rape and pillage it for little in return."
He would like to see legislation similar to American legislation in states such as Maine where shoreland areas are subject to zoning and land use controls.
New Democratic Party environment critic Graham Steele attended the event and is concerned the government will not meet the goals it laid out in the Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act, which was passed in June. "Anybody can set a target," says Mr. Steele.
"The real challenge is actually devising plans to meet the targets."
Highlights of the act include reducing greenhouse gases by 10 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, and having 18.5 per cent of energy needs come from renewable resources by 2013.
Environment Minister Mark Parent says the government must meet the targets by certain dates and must report to the legislature on an annual basis to report the progress being made. If the government is unable to meet its targets, Mr. Parent says penalties would be possible, but "we only use the stick if we need to."
Mr. Parent says initiatives, such as introducing a $9.5-million environmental technologies fund and starting an electronics recycling program, will help the government achieve its goals.
It’s not just up to government to lead the charge about being more environmentally friendly, says Mr. Parent.
"We don’t want a situation where government is looked at as the one that will meet the goal all on its own, because if that happens, we won’t have unleashed the creativity and energy of Nova Scotians, and that’s the only way we’re going to do it."
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Environmental groups are urging the Nova Scotia government to turn its agenda "green."
Several rallies were held Wednesday morning from Digby to Sydney, with demonstrators demanding that various environmental issues take centre stage.
In downtown Sydney, about 35 people gathered outside offices of the Department of Environment and Labour and sang how they want the government to "bring back our democracy."
Many of the demonstrators have been fighting a strip mining project in nearby Point Aconi for years.
"Across the province, there are so many environmental issues and it seems government is not listening. So, we thought it was time for everybody to join together and tell us that they need to start listening to us and protecting our environment," said Donna Stubbert.
The rallies began with a phone call to opponents of a proposed rock quarry and marine terminal on Digby Neck.
Though the environment minister announced Tuesday he would not approve the project, organizers in Sydney say that doesn't end the fight for people in Digby County.
"They are even more enthusiastic about this rally than before because they know it's not the end," said Christiane Tanner, who made the call.
The federal-provincial panel that recommended rejection of the quarry also suggested the province work on a coastal zone management plan, which Nova Scotia Environment Minister Mark Parent said he would take up with the appropriate departments.
‘Speaking out in solidarity’
A hastily organized province-wide rally last week showed a good chance of snowballing into something much larger.
The SOS Snowball rally took place in Digby and six other Nova Scotian communities on Nov. 21, just one day after plans for a local quarry were terminated.
Marilyn Stanton of Sandy Cove' and Christiane Tanner of Cape Breton created the event just 15 days prior to the rallies taking place. Stanton said the local community has a lot in common with Tanner's community.
"They are battling a strip mine," said Stanton. "Although we have never met, we decided to become partners and symbolically join hands over the North Mountain from one end of the province to the other."
The initials, SOS are an internationally recognized distress call, which the women decided was fitting to send to government. In this case the primary message was citizens speaking out in solidarity.
"There were other potential things—Save Our Shorelines, Stop Our Silence—you could go on and on," said Stanton. "The title we eventually came up with for today was Strength Of Seven because there were seven rallies going on."
Although she was quick to mention the rallies had nothing to do with government’s decision now to approve a Digby Neck quarry project, rally documents call for government to follow the recommendations set out in a recent report advising against the project.
That report also called on the province to develop and implement a coastal management policy and require environmental assessments for any future quarry in Nova Scotia. Current legislation allows proposed quarries below four hectares to skip environmental assessment.
"As a province, we have never enough valued and treasured what is ours," said Stanton. "We always look to other places so it's time we stood up and did that, understood what a wonderful place we have."
Rallies in Digby, Annapolis Royal, Yarmouth, Wolfville, Halifax and other locations took place just one day after Environment Minister Mark Parent made the decision to kill the Digby Neck quarry. However, none of the government departments involved with the application recommended against the quarry proceeding. Had it not been for citizens pushing for a joint panel review, the outcome might have been different and that's cause for concern, Stanton said.
"There's no protection for our resources, there's no policy," said Stanton. "Someone said that once we become a profit-driven society, all of our values are going to change. We need to go back there. We need to re-establish old values, we have to look at what we need as opposed to what we want, and how much wealth we really need to amass."
Next up are a bumper sticker campaign and a series of rallies early in 2008, but Stanton said it's important to remember that while Digby's battle is over, Tanner's group is still fighting a strip mine in an area surprisingly similar to Digby Neck.
"We have to take accountability and responsibility for the fact that we haven't said to our government that this is enough," Stanton said. "We care what happens to our province."
Activists call province to account on environment
Hants County activists gathered outside Hants West MLA Chuck Porter’s office Wednesday, Nov. 21 to speak out on environmental issues in the region.
The SOS - Speak Out in Solidarity - event took place in conjunction with rallies in Digby, Annapolis, Kentville, Halifax, Trenton and Sydney to mark the eve of the fall session of the provincial Legislature.
Thirty members and friends of the Avon Peninsula Watershed Preservation Society (APWPS), Friends of the Avon River (FAR) and Citizens Action to Protect the Environment (CAPE) came out in the cold sunshine to sing songs, wave signs and walk together through downtown Windsor in an effort to hold the provincial government accountable on their commitments to protecting the environment.
West Hants municipal councillor Randy Matheson joined the groups to show his support, saying, “I’m here to support these groups and to support green.”
Porter, who was in Halifax preparing for the opening of the Legislature, expressed regret for missing the event.
“I wish I had been there,” he said. “I think it’s great that people are taking an interest. I think our government has focused on a number of environmental priorities.”
Michael MacNeil, with APWPS, said, “the central message is to get the provincial government to take a more concerted proactive approach to the preservation of the environment. We’re not anti-business, but are looking for a more balanced and thoughtful approach to the provincial environment.”
Those in attendance praised the Provincial Conservative’s action ordering of an environmental review of the proposed Digby Neck basalt quarry and the recent decision not to allow the quarry operation. Mira MacNeil, also with APWPS, said she was “glad the government made the decision to save White’s Point.” MacNeil added, “one can only hope it bodes well for the future.”
However, beyond the quarry, there are other local issues of concern. The two most prominent discussed at the protest were the rumored expansion of Fundy Gypsum and forestry management.
November 21, 2007
HALIFAX - Environmental groups are calling on Nova Scotia politicians to put green issues at the top of the agenda of the fall legislative session.
Several protests were held across the province Wednesday to urge politicians to take a more aggressive stance when it comes to environmental issues.
In Halifax, activists staged a play in front of the legislature showing a politician sleeping through the many threats facing the environment.
The executive director of the Nova Scotia Environmental Network, Tamara Lorincz, said there is a wide range of issues that need to be addressed, including climate change and greenhouse gases, strip mining, and protecting the coastline.
She said while the province passed legislation earlier this year setting out a number of goals and targets, including greenhouse gas reductions, it's a small step that is coming years too late.
"They've only just begun," said Lorincz. "Let's remember that we signed Kyoto in 1997, Kyoto was ratified by the Canadian government almost five years ago, so Nova Scotia actually has been a laggard on dealing with climate change."
The province passed the Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act, which sets goals including reducing greenhouse gases to 10 per cent below 1990 levels over the next 13 years.
Lorincz said the evidence that climate change is a serious threat to the world is only growing, and politicians in Nova Scotia should take a lead role.
She said environmentalists will be watching Thursday's speech from the throne carefully for any sign that the province is taking the issue more seriously.
|As the flowers are all made sweeter
by the sunshine and the dew,
so this old world is made brighter
by the lives of folks like you.
September 22, 2007
Mainland group joins strip mine protest
By Julie Collins
CAPE BRETON POST
POINT ACONI - Several groups protesting the burning of coal and the strip mines which produces the fossil fuel gathered for an information session Friday at the entrance to Nova Scotia's power plant in Point Aconi.
A six member delegation from the Hillside-Trenton Environment Watch Association NewGlasgow, NS joined over 50 members of Citizens Against Strip Mining (CASM).
Both groups are concerned that Nova Scotia Power is purchasing high sulphur coal strip mined in Pt. Aconi by Pioneer Coal to burn in its Nova Scotia Power plants.
"CASM members travelled to our area tosupport our efforts and we felt it was only fair to do the same; said Trenton association spokesperson Peter Boyle. "We're all in the same boat. If we don't step up to the plate, she's going to soon sink because the environment is in an awful state.
Both groups would like to see Nova Scotia Power go to an alternative energy source, such as windmills and tidal water to generate power.
"It's a good possibility that the coal being strip mined in Cape Breton could land in Trenton. It's higher ash and high sulphur and would be even more devastating if it is burned in the Trenton generating station which is in the middle of our community, he said. "We'd like to see NS Power get rid of coal and stop ruining people's lives and destroying the environment."
CASM member Michelle Symes said there is a concern that drainage from the Pioneer strip mine site is being pumped directly into the Bras d'Or Lakes.
"This is putting the fishing grounds at risk We're also concerned about the water table for Boularderie island," she said. "If they pierce the aquifer that supplies water for Boularderie Island, this is putting wells and homes at risk." Symes moved with her family to Boularderie Island from the mainland three years ago.
"We chose to live on Boularderie Island, we love it here. My husband travels to work on the mainland;' she said. "We wanted to move to a clean, safe environment where we could raise our children. We'.re concerned that it will be taken away from us, we don't ever want to move from Boularderie island".
Keith Boutilier, who fishes out of Alder Point, is concerned about the future of the local lobster fishery.
"Dirty water is being pumped into the lake and it is ruining the fish habitat."
|September 22, 2007
Marchers protest strip mine
By TERA CAMUS
POINT ACONI — A parrot named Noah didn’t say it, nor did about 50 protesters who showed up at the gates of Nova Scotia Power’s Point Aconi plant Friday.
But there was plenty of standing around and friendly banter among those who held the signs reading Stop Strip Mining, a message Noah just refused to repeat.
Pioneer Coal of Stellarton, owned by businessman John Chisholm, has permission from the provincial government to dig deep in Boularderie Island to fix shallow hand-dug pits. Then coal that is strip mined is sold to NSP but residents say the coal is of such poor quality that NSP’s plant is belching more than its usual share of pollution into the sky and over nearby farms.
"There’s destruction of our wetlands and acid mine drainage putting our fishing grounds (at risk) right here off Point Aconi, and there’s very little remediation work going on," Michelle Symes of Boularderie East said. "The company is allowed to dig to 160 feet to reach the coal seams and if they reach that, they could pierce our freshwater aquifer and that will be putting us all at risk."
Keith Boutilier, a local lobster fisherman, said the discharge from mining that is close to the ocean is causing damage.
"It’s going to kill the bottom there. . . . Lobster need a good bottom to live," he said. "The lobster may cross there but they don’t stay because it’s muddy, no kelp. . . . Very few things can survive there."
About a half-dozen residents and members of the Hillside Trenton Environmental Watch Association joined the Cape Breton protesters because their concerns over pollution at NSP’s plant in Trenton and nearby strip-mining activity in Stellarton are similar.
"We’re all in the same boat and if government doesn’t step up to the plate, the boat is going to sink," spokesman Peter Boyles said. "The environment is in such a mess now. . . . NSP is part of the problem."
When asked whether he had a message for the power corporation, he urged it to "get rid of the coal and clean up your act."
Mr. Boyles said there are so many alternative ways to produce electricity that coal shouldn’t be needed anymore. "There are all kinds of things they could be doing besides ruining people’s lives and destroying the environment."
|August 28, 2007
Old colliery sites to be remediated
First up is former Princess mine
BY JULIE COLLINS
CAPE BRETON POST
Please note that while Devco is "cleaning up" the Princess Mine, there is no mention of Devco's Prince Mine where the provincial government claimed that the federal money was not on the table and that's why they're strip mining Point Aconi to make the money to clean up the site, and because there's no federal money involved there was no environmental assessment done on the Prince before approving Pioneer Coal's project!
FLORENCE — Remediation work will have to be completed on the Princess mine’s site before Devco officials can turn their attention to a number of mine sites in neighbouring communities.
Coun. Wes Stubbert and fellow Cape Breton Regional Municipality councillors Clarence Prince and Darren Bruckschwaiger met recently with Devco officials regarding the cleanup of old mine sites.
“Old colliery sites, such the former Franklyn mine in Florence, the old Little Pond strip mine site and an underground mine owned by Devco are a disgrace,” Stubbert said. “It’s good for the community to know that the Old Franklyn site and the former strip mine in Little Pond are on the list for future cleanup.”
Stubbert said even though it will be two to three years before work can begin, it’s important for the community to know they haven’t been forgotten. Work on the 11-hectare site of the former Princess mine in Sydney Mines began this summer, part of Devco’s closure program on the Sydney coalfield.
The work will include grading, bringing in new soil, hydroseeding areas that don’t have vegetation and development of walking trails. When Devco ceased operation it turned to Public Works and Government Services Canada, a large federal department with experience in environmental cleanups and project management.
The Princess mine site, which has been divided into two sections, the washplant and waste rock area, will be remediated to light industrial and recreational.Once the work is complete on those two sites, Public Works will move on to nearby Edward’s Pond in Sydney Mines.
“The old Franklyn site is in the heart of the community. There are old abutments, timbers and mine waste, it’s a terrible looking site.” He noted that once the site is remediated, it could be suitable for housing with water and sewer services already in place.
Stubbert said a shortage of building lots in Florence has anyone looking to build going elsewhere. “There are always people looking to come back home and build. Once the Franklyn site is cleaned up, they will have the option to build in their native community.”
He added the site would be ideal for six to eight new homes. Devco owns approximately 600 properties covering about 1,000 square kilometres in 35 different communities within Cape Breton. These range from urban lots, forest fields, wetlands and ponds to ocean frontage.
“I’m very impressed with the remediation work that Devco has done in other areas of the regional municipality,” said Prince, who represents District 15. “At the end of the day, I’m sure the residents will be more than pleased with the results which should be esthetically pleasing.”
|July 16, 2007
Exciting discoveries to be made under cliffs at Point Aconi
Rain can’t keep fossil enthusiasts away
The Cape Breton Post
Under the guidance and direction of Dr. Stewart Critchley, the seasonal curator of the Cape Breton Fossil Center, our diverse collection of individuals from Canada, the United States, England, and even Australia, were eagerly anticipating our little fossil hunting expedition under the imposing 60-foot cliffs at Point Aconi.
What I was not prepared for, however, was how quickly this unknown group of strangers, including young children, teenagers, and even reluctant adults, were quickly transformed into a co-operative communal effort. Dr. Critchley, and his assistant William (Skinny) Foster, were determined to see that over the next 90 minutes everyone came away with at least one good quality fossil.
Everyone searched, and evaluated, and looked some more. Those who were having trouble finding good specimens were soon directed to promising items, while those who lingered too long at one location were gently reminded that many more were waiting to be discovered. In fact, just around the point was the most intriguing fossil of all, a fossilized tree trunk embedded in the side of the cliff!
The sight of this five-foot long specimen, vertically positioned above a three-foot thick coal seam, was without a doubt the highlight of our fossil excursion. While those with cameras scrambled to find the best photo angle, others scooped up small quantities of coal from the beach. (I had to remind myself that most of these people, especially the children, had never seen a piece of coal.)
According to Dr. Critchley, it was impossible to identify this particular tree, because the bark had eroded away. Also, the fact that no roots were visible seemed to indicate that this particular example did not grow above the coal seam. It was probably deposited there by some sort of primeval flood.
Then he pointed to the yellow mineral, so obvious in the coal seam and in the cliff next to the fossil tree. This was sulphur, one of the main factors in the decline of the Cape Breton coal industry. Sulphur in coal, if it is not removed before combustion, results in unacceptable amounts of sulphur dioxide being released into the atmosphere, creating severe environmental problems.
It was now almost 90 minutes since our arrival, and the tide was starting to turn. While Dr. Critchley and ‘Skinny’ Foster rounded up a few stragglers, who were reluctant to leave, I quickly shot off my last few frames of film.
On the walk back Dr. Critchley remarked that he still gets e-mails from former tour members, worldwide, asking detailed questions about their fossil souvenirs. He also recalled one very wet day, when he reluctantly decided to cancel the tour. However, the 20 or so waiting individuals refused to be deterred by a little rain, and off they went. Although the rain never let up, this happy group went home with their share of the extraordinary fossil record from the cliffs at Point Aconi.
His parting words left us all with a rather special insight into the mind of this remarkable teacher and educator, and his enthusiasm for the fossils of the Sydney Coal Field:
“I am always looking for that perfect fossil, for each one is unique. I get inspired when I see others get excited about fossils!”
Next week: The future of our fossil centre.
Rannie Gillis is an author and avid Celtic historian whose column appears every week in the Cape Breton Post.
|9 July 2007
On the hunt for fossils at Point Aconi
The Cape Breton Post
The approximately 30 individuals who met at the Cape Breton Fossil Center in Sydney Mines, on that warm sunny morning last August, were eagerly anticipating our little fossil expedition that would take us under the imposing cliffs at nearby Point Aconi. Waiting to lead us was Dr. Stewart Critchley, the Sydney Mines native who is the seasonal curator of the fossil center. After a short introduction, we were told to return to our vehicles, and follow him for the short 15-minute drive to the fossil site at Point Aconi.
We parked our cars on the side of the gravel road, not too far from the Point Aconi lighthouse. At this particular spot, we could easily walk down a gentle slope to the beach, where we all assembled to wait for further instructions. With Dr. Critchley was William (Skinny) Foster, also from Sydney Mines, who would be responsible for our safety while under the cliffs.
Dr. Critchley then told us a rather interesting fact, and one that I was certainly not aware of. Provincial law states that you may not remove any fossils that you find protruding from the side of a cliff. However, you may take (within reason) any fossil that you find lying on the ground, or on the shoreline. However, all fossils remain the property of the province of Nova Scotia. (Should you find a dinosaur bone, it would more than likely be confiscated by the provincial government for display in a museum.)
Next came a warning about the unstable condition of the cliffs, due to the fragile nature of the sandstone and shale. Each year up to one foot of the cliffs is lost to erosion, which means that the cliffs are usually undercut to some extent. For this reason, we were told to remain on the outside at all times, as close to the water as possible. If we ignored this warning, and moved in under the cliffs, then “Skinny” Foster would chastise us, and move us away for own safety.
With that, Dr. Critchley and “Skinny” passed out at least a dozen “rock hammers” (geologist’s hammers) to the older children, with instructions to share them with others whenever they were asked. These would be used to remove small fossils from larger pieces of rock. We were also told to remain together, so that nobody would be left behind once the tide started to come in. Then we were off, for the five-minute walk along the shore to the base of the cliffs.
We had arrived on site as a diverse collection of about 30 individuals, from various parts of Canada, the United States, Great Britain, and even Australia. However, over the next 90 minutes, something wonderful happened to this group of total strangers. Young children, teenagers, and even reluctant adults, were quickly transformed into a co-operative communal effort, with one primary objective: to make sure that everyone came away with at least one good quality fossil.
Next week: a fossil tree in the side of the cliff at Point Aconi.
Boularderie Island in 1738:
July 3, 2007
POINT ACONI — Standing around in the sun for three hours didn’t temper the mood of about 30 protesters waiting to get the ear of cabinet minister Mark Parent, Tuesday.
“We’re here today to let the minister know we are not going away,” protester Donna Stubbert said.
It’s more than two years since Citizens Against Strip Mining began lobbying against further strip mining on Boularderie Island.
“The minister is still not listening to the people.”
The environment and labour minister, accompanied by Cape Breton West MLA Alfie MacLeod, toured Point Aconi power generating station.
The plant is about 500 metres from the former Prince mine site which is being remediated by Pioneer Coal of Antigonish.
Cape Breton Regional Police Service presence was obvious with two or three vehicles parked near the peaceful demonstration as Parent left.
The minister declined an invitation by protester Richard Collis to visit the strip mine.
“You did nothing,” Collis shouted.
Parent said he met with CASM twice and toured the site on a previous occasion.
Stubbert said the premier preached the wisdom of dialogue in his dispute with Ottawa reneging on its commitment to the Atlantic Accord.
“That doesn’t seem to be the case here,” Stubbert said.
“The premier also said people have rights and should not feel bullied, I think the people of Bouldarerie have been feeling that way for years.”
CASM wanted Parent to tour the strip mine site to see the 20-metre excavation required to reach the coal seam.
“There is a huge hole there the company did not have permits to dig, they destroyed a huge area of wetlands and put in a haulage road,” Stubbert said.
“Shouldn’t someone be accountable?”
CASM has petitioned the federal government — the former owners of the site — to have an environmental assessment of the 28 toxic areas identified in a baseline environmental study done in 2004.
“Nobody has a problem with the cleanup of the Prince mine site,” Stubbert said. “The issue is the 85 hectares of pristine forests containing 47 acres of wetlands, the area beyond the Prince mine site that will be destroyed.”
Parent said following a tour of Point Aconi Power that he is confident the conditions put in place by the Environment Department on the company will result in good environmental remediation.
He admitted past remediation efforts weren’t at the level expected.
“It’s difficult when you live next to a mine and you see the past and the damage but you don’t see the future yet.”
He said the company has to remediate a wetland it disturbed.
“As minister I have been very proactive on making them (companies) meet high environmental standards.”
Boularderie resident George Bragg said the land will be useless after the company is finished stripping coal from the site.
“You can’t plant on it, drill a bore hole or put a basement or a house on loose soil,” he said.
July 3, 2007
Port Aconi, N.S. (CP) - Nova Scotia Environment Minister Mark Parent's visit Tuesday to a local power station attracted a group of protesters opposed to a strip mine on Cape Breton's Boularderie Island.
Parent visited the Point Aconi power generating station to mark its safety record, but he said he understands protesters concerns about land reclamation at old strip mine sites. He said previous failures to rehabilitate land causes people to fear the development of new strip mines.
"It's difficult for people," he said. "They can't see 10 years in the future, so they look at what we've done in the past and say, 'Oh, gee, I don't want that happening in my area."'
Protester Michelle Symes said the mine would destroy a local wetland.
"They're barging through wetlands right now," she said. "You can't build a wetland, it takes thousands of years for those to be rebuilt."
Last year, the provincial government signed off on industrial approval that could allow Pioneer Coal to open a surface colliery around the former Prince mine.
25 June 2007
“Rannie, where was that coal mine? Was it near here?”
“Yanick, we are probably standing above some of the underground tunnels. See that small cliff over there, well the entrance to the Prince mine was back behind those trees. It was the last coal mine to close on Cape Breton Island (November, 2001). In fact, it was the last underground coal mine in Atlantic Canada.”
Yanick MacLean was full of questions, as are most 10-year-old boys and on this fine August morning last summer the questions were coming thick and fast.
“Why did it close? Did it run out of coal?”
“Yes, Rannie, why did it close?,” asked his mother Marie-Claude. “Dr. Critchley just showed us some thick layers of coal that go up the side of the cliff.”
Dr. Stuart Critchley had indeed just pointed out some very black seams of coal, condensed layers of which came out of the ocean and ran at a slight angle up the side of these 60-foot high cliffs.
“Well Yanick, I think there were two reasons why the Prince Mine closed. First, it was getting too expensive to remove the coal, because the mine's tunnels went out five miles under the ocean. Second, the quality of the coal was not very good. It contained too much sulphur, which causes air pollution, and the environmental people were not very happy because of that.”
It was the retired teacher in me, trying very hard to take an economically and politically charged topic and condense it down to a few sentences that a child could understand and relate to. It seemed to satisfy him, but I could see that his mother was just itching to ask a few more questions. Time to change the subject!
“Yanick, lets continue under the cliffs and see if we can find that fossil tree.”
Planned by my sister, Catherine, and my niece, Maria, this little expedition had started earlier that morning, when we arrived at the Cape Breton Fossil Centre in Sydney Mines. With us were our young cousins Yanick (10) and Melina (12) MacLean, along with their parents Michael and Marie-Claude, who were visiting from Cornwall, Ontario.
When it first opened, in the spring of 2003, this new building had about 80 fossils on display. Last August the impressive structure housed approximately 600 fossils, along with lab facilities, administrative areas and a small gift shop. It is an integral part of the Sydney Mines Heritage Society, a non-profit group that operates the local history museum.
About 30 individuals, including at least six family groups, were waiting for instructions on this upcoming fossil adventure. Shortly after 10 a.m., we were asked to return to our vehicles and follow Dr. Critchely's car for the 15-minute drive to Point Aconi, the site of our fossil tour.
Located at the northern tip of Boularderie Island, Point Aconi has a picture perfect lighthouse, as well as some of the most spectacular coastal scenery in all of Nova Scotia. It is also the location of the former Prince Mine, one of the largest coal-fired power stations in the province and a new strip mine. Quite a large industrial footprint, for such a very small geographic area!
Next week: under the cliffs at Point Aconi.
Note the difference between the province's "progressive
rehabilitation" plan that thoroughly destroys 85 hectares of healthy
woodlands and wetlands around Devco's former Prince Mine in Point Aconi, and
PWGSC's "remediation" plan for Devco's Princess Mine in Sydney Mines
expected to take only 2 years even though it's in much worse shape than the
13 June 2007
SYDNEY MINES - Tenders will go out this month for remediation of the washplant area of the former Princess mine site.
Work on the 11-hectare site is expected to begin in early July, part of Devco's remediation of the Sydney coalfield.
Richard Crowe, client service director with Public Works and Government Services Canada, said the work will include grading, bringing in new soil, hydroseeding areas that don't have vegetation and development of walking trails.
The site will be remediated to light industrial and recreational use.
"We divided the property into two sections, the area south of Ocean Street, which is referred to as the washplant site, and about 40 hectares northeast of Ocean Street which is referred to as the waste rock area:"
Later in the summer, work will begin on the waste rock area to address drainage issues. The work will include ditching and. grading work and is expected to take about two years to complete.
"That's probably as much as will get done this construction season on the waste rock area; he said. "We'll return the following year to put in walking trails, cap the site, do some hydroseeding and plant some trees:'
Devco owns approximately 600 properties covering about 1,000 square kilometres in 35 different communities within Cape Breton. These range from urban lots, forest fields, wetlands and ponds to ocean frontage.
When Devco ceased operation, it turned to Public Works, a federal department with experience in environmental clean ups and project management.
"We still have major projects to do and the one on our radar at present is Princess mine site; Crowe said. "We've had a number of open houses in Sydney Mines to explain the progress and answer any questions. We take it in stages, easing ourselves into the work so there aren't any surprises for the residents living close by."
Once the work is complete on these two sites, Public Works will move on to nearby Edward's Pond.
"We will be able to observe the effects of the ground water to determine the best way to manage Edward's Pond:'
Public Works spent the past year on the Princess mine site taking samples and trying to determine the environmental condition of the property.
The goal of the remediation program is to leave former mining sites in a stable, safe condition and return it to its former land use or an acceptable alternative.
Crowe said one of the key things Devco wants to do is leave a positive legacy for future generations.
"Devco is serious in their efforts to have these concerns addressed; he said. "We've been at this now for about five or six years and have about 50 per cent of the work completed;" he said.
The majority of the demolition work is done and the majority of sites have been assessed to determine their environmental condition.
12 June 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.
|11 June 2007
Foes feel shut out of mine process
By JOCELYN BETHUNE
POINT ACONI - A group opposed to strip mining says the public has been left out of the decision-making process on Boularderie Island.
Earl Cantwell, a member of Citizens Against Strip Mining on Boularderie Island, said residents have not been consulted about the closing of a small connector road near a proposed mine site. Pioneer Coal of Stellarton was granted industrial approval last year to operate a mine near there.
"It seems as though they are jumping the gun," Mr. Cantwell told The Chronicle Herald on Saturday.
"(Pioneer Coal owner John) Chisholm talked about closing the road in his reports but we thought there would at least be some public consultation or meetings, not just a notice in the paper."
Last week, the Department of Public Works placed ads in the Cape Breton Post announcing that effective at midnight to- night, a short section of Sheri Lee Lane in Point Aconi would be closed until further notice.
The road has a single home on it and is often used as an access ' road to Tony's Beach, a popular spot for swimmers that is also used by local fishermen as a boat launch, Mr. Cantwell said.
Parts of the road have been I closed for the past 15 or 16 years because it was unsafe, Mr. Cant- well said.
"If they are going to close the road, how long will they close it for? We've got a CLC (community liaison committee) that is supposed to be communicating the community's concerns," he said.
"There is a real lack of public consultation."
A representative from Public Works could not be reached for comment on the weekend.
20 April 2007
Ross McCurdy is ready for the challenge.
But one of the first orders of business for the new chairman of the Cape Breton Development Corporation the Crown corporation that operated coal mines on the island between 1967 and 2001 is explaining Devco’s new role.
"Yes, they are out of the coal mining business," he says with fresh enthusiasm, when asked by The Chronicle Herald what kind of business Devco is doing these days, other than issuing pension cheques.
"But they have a lot of property holdings and they are responsible for the remediation of all those sites," he said in a phone interview from his Halifax home.
"When the corporation divests those properties they are to be divested in a good clean state. In fact, there is going to be a fair amount of monitoring and looking at the consequences of the mining activities well onto the future. So it’s an extremely important phase.
"People don’t realize really how much remediation is going on. It’s a big, big activity," he said.... ....
The $100-million, five-year remediation effort will involve a combination of both underground and above-ground work
"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," he said.
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," he said.
The land can then be used for development or greenbelts.
April 20, 2007
SYDNEY - The province has denied the Cape Breton Regional Municipality's application to control the practices of companies wanting to set up strip mining operations in the municipality.
Councillors had wanted an amendment to the municipal planning strategy that would require companies to obtain a development permit in order for the CBRM to regulate the strip mining of coal.
Changes to the planning strategy included refusing to grant development permits to companies wanting to extract coal in rural areas.
From the outset, councillors who initially approved the measure at a December planning advisory committee meeting gave it little hope of provincial approval but felt it was the municipality's last ditch attempt to gain some authority on how strip mining developments are handled, particularly on the issues of water quality and erosion.
Mayor John Morgan said the amendment was "purely symbolic"
He would like to see council move forward with a motion he put forward last year but that had been rejected. '
"It authorized myself to take the actions that are necessary to stop strip mining, Morgan said. "We would put together a bylaw or amendments to the bylaw that regulated things clearly within our own jurisdiction".
|Thursday, March 29, 2007
HANSARD 07-44 DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS
MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my question today is for the Minister of Environment and Labour - to give him something more to chew on.
Yesterday in the House, the Minister of Natural Resources said - and I quote and I will table this - when asked about strip mining."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." I will table this and I am sure the member for Victoria-The Lakes would love to use that in his next election brochure.
He also assured me that in most cases full remediation is taken under consideration following the closing of strip mines in Cape Breton and the land is brought back to an original pristine condition. I want to ask the Minister of Environment and Labour, can he tell me how the remediation is getting along at the site of the St. Rose and the old Evans coal workings and in Reserve Mines in Cape Breton, both Chisholm locations?
HON. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the House, in regards to Point Aconi, that my department has dealt with their requests and we are putting conditions on them that have been publicized on the Internet, that have been made well known to the company, that will result in appropriate remediation and, if it doesn't happen, we will be demanding it from them.
MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, then since that minister doesn't care about the Premier's riding, I am going to direct my first supplementary to the Minister of Natural Resources. Yesterday we spoke about the rent paid on 61 hectares of Cape Breton land, which is the pricey sum of $3,500 per annum over the lifetime of this strip mine. Today I would like to ask him about coal royalties - in Nova Scotia coal producers pay in the vicinity of $1 per ton in royalties to the people of Nova Scotia. I would like to ask this minister, how much money has been collected in royalties on behalf of Nova Scotians from John Chisholm and Pioneer Coal Mines?
HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for giving me a chance to point out that through these remediation projects there have been many, many abandoned coal mine sites that have been remediated in this province - and I can tell you if you go to the people of Stellarton and you ask them how much they value the remediation that was done there, I think they would tell you that it was priceless.
MR. CORBETT: Almost as priceless as that answer, Mr. Speaker. My final supplementary will be to that minister because obviously he has no idea of what we collect. They are ready to give these resources to John Chisholm at will. So we want to know if the owner of Pioneer Coal is an ardent financial supporter of his Party and this government? I expect he's fairly easy to find when it comes to election campaigns and leadership campaigns. How come he's so hard to find when it comes time to collect royalties on coal mined in Nova Scotia?
MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I acknowledge the member opposite's question and I want to say, to the best of my knowledge, Mr. Chisholm is a law abiding corporate citizen in this province and I know nothing of his political activities by way of donations to any Parties.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. I would like to table Order in Council 2007-143, which approves the lease of 61 hectares of Crown land situated in beautiful Point Aconi, Cape Breton, to Pioneer Coal Limited to develop a strip mine. Pioneer Coal Limited is being charged an annual rent of 10 per cent of the appraised value of this land, which would be about $3,500 per annum. So I want to ask the minister, why does he consider this a reasonable rate of return on land that is going to be destroyed by strip mining?
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.
MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, to that same minister, maybe he should turn around and talk to the member for Victoria-The Lakes and get a tour of beautiful Boularderie Island and Point Aconi. It would certainly dismiss these inaccurate descriptions of beautiful Point Aconi. I will table now another Order in Council, Order in Council 2004-514. This OIC just leases one hectare of Crown land in Inverness County to Black River Hydro Limited for the purpose of wind energy generation. Now, this energy company will be charged an annual rent of $3,500 per megawatt of capacity on each wind turbine for the first ten years of this lease. I'd like to ask this minister, why does it cost the same amount to rent one hectare of Crown land for wind energy as it does for 61 hectares of Crown land for strip mining?
MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, clearly there are two totally different uses being put in place for the properties. Clearly, in the first one, it's a remediation plan to clean up a couple of centuries of coal mining, often bootleg mines. At the end of the day it has been shown in many cases that the land is in much better condition afterwards and we look forward to the completion of the remediation of Port Aconi.
MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, it's Point Aconi, Mr. Minister. You know the largesse of Mr. Chisholm, if it was so great, we would see Reserve cleaned up, we would see St. Rose cleaned up. He's left them in a mess, but it's alright to give him almost free land from the people of Nova Scotia.
I want to ask you, Mr. Speaker, the outcome of both of the leases would be the same for the generation of power for the use of Nova Scotians. Their impact on Crown land will be hugely different. On one hand, we will have a wind turbine, on the other hand, we'll have 60 hectares of Cape Breton land forever scarred because of strip mining. I want to ask this minister, how much do these actions fit with his government's recent initiatives regarding environmental sustainability and stewardship?
MR. MORSE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm very pleased the member points out the excellent record of this government in that regards of the environment, clearly it's very important to remediate those lands in Point Aconi. While the NDP may believe we have $1.7 billion to throw about, this government is very frugal with our finances and it is good to have it done in this manner so that it does not come at taxpayers' expense.
March 29, 2007
It is truly amazing that some corporations appear to have total control over government. It is apparent that mining companies can tear up provincial roadways regardless of damage or the inconvenience to nearby residents. Taxpayers are now just a source of revenue, stomped on when corporations want their way.
A major part of Sherilee Lane is apparently to be destroyed without even a public hearing. Fishermen who use this roadway will lose access to their livelihood. That's shows little concern for residents and for keeping people in Cape Breton.
With the Donkin mine's two- million-tonne production coming onstream,we will have the all the coal we need. This could also save our railroad. There is no need to destroy Boularderie Island and its water supply.
Yes, remediation of old mine sites is needed. The 1947 strip mine site in Little Pond (Mills Mining and Devco) should be reclaimed, levelled and grassed.
This area is serviced by bed-and- breakfast homes overlooking the ocean and should be cleaned up before any consideration is given to a new strip mine.
As well, the old Franklyn mine site, also owned by Devco, is a disgrace in the centre of a fine residential area. Don't mine it; just clean it up.
The next five years should be dedicated to real cleanup of these sites. If there is any justice and democracy left, strip mining on Boularderie Island should stop to save established industry, homes and the water supply.
J. Wesley Stubbert
March 19, 2007
The caption on a letter in the Post March 13, 2007, told it all: “Intense localism main problem facing Cape Breton.” Agreed.
What Gail Tomlison stated in her letter to the Post, March 13, in reply to Eugene Magee’s letter about strip mining and other developments is the truth. She said in part that “the main problem facing Cape Breton is the intense localism and apathy which prevent, say, someone from Louisbourg from studying and understanding the issues in other areas of Cape Breton.” It allows people such as Mr. Magee to assert that strip mining is a “positive development.”
I wonder whether Mr. Magee would hold the same opinion about strip mining if he knew the facts. I wonder whether he has ever taken a drive over to the Northside to see the desecration from strip mining on the Little Pond Road near Florence. Has he been to the Halfway Road in Sydney Mines? Did he know that the water table on Boularderie Island was seriously damaged twice, first by Pioneer Coal’s strip mine in the early 1980s and then by the construction of a power plant in Point Aconi? Does he know that it will be compromised a third time when Pioneer opens up another huge hole in the earth with a high-wall miner that will cause the displacement of millions of gallons of precious water from an acquifer that feeds all of us?
Does he know that Pioneer will mine coal with a high sulphur content on Boularderie for seven years, largely in virgin territory, and that it will be mixed with pet coke and burned by NSPI in a plant deemed one of the worst polluters in Canada? Does he know that this coal is not needed because the Donkin mine is opening? Does he know that it will seriously impact upon the privacy of individuals, as well as farming, fishing and tourism and that it will employ very few people?
Does he know that that the province sold this project as a reclamation project to fix crop pits but the company will mine to depths of 160 feet? Has he looked up the word “subterfuge” lately? Does he know that Pioneer Coal mined at Reserve Airport in the 1990s and left a mess there, violating major clauses of an industrial permit? Is he aware of the fact that the workers at Pioneer Coal have already destroyed a wetland near the old Point Aconi mine site and used the toxic overburden from the site to build a road to the new mine and that they mowed down trees in a square-kilometer area? How is the desecration of the environment on Boularderie Island a positive development? How is it in the interests of Mr. Magee or the rest of Cape Breton?
What needs to happen in order for Cape Bretoners to take ownership of this issue?
LeRoy Peach lives in Port Morien . His column appears every week in the Cape Breton Post.
January 30, 2007
POINT ACONI -- A routine inspection by provincial Department of Environment officials on the Pioneer Coal strip mining site in Point Aconi has uncovered an infringement of wetlands in the construction of a haul road.
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.
According to Environment officials, the wetland in question wasnt identified in the company's environmental assessment.
"In building this road, the company grazed the side of the wetland. It isn't like the wetland isn't there anymore. It affected a small portion of it, amounting to about a half acre." McKinnon said the Environment Department has the option of charging Pioneer Coal or issuing a warnirg.
"Pioneer Coal is going to have to put a remediation plan in place on how they are going to protect what is left." The Environment Department. will determine what form of compensation there will be for what was destroyed.
There are other wetlands on the site, but according to the Environment Department all are the size that require an environmental assessment.
McKinnon said what the Environment Department considers'a wetland and what the average citizen considers a wetland, could be completely different.
When contacted Monday in his Antigonish office, John Chisholm of Pio- neer Coal said thecompany hasn't infringed on any wetland.
"Our consultant indicated there was no wetland in that area; said Chisholm. "There is no wetland.'
He said a terrestrial ecologist and environmental technologist surveyed the area on Jan. 19.
"No wetland or suspected wetland were detected within that corridor" Chisholm said. "(Department of) Environment is saying it is under investigation; that's all we know."
Pioneer Coal, which is based in Antigonish, was granted industrial approval to operate Sept. 12. The approval contained more than 50 conditions that focus on protecting drinking-water sources, wildlife, aesthetics, wetlands and residential properties.
"If the Environment Department had listened to us months ago, this much damage wouldn't have taken place", said Donna Stubbert of Citizens Against Strip Mining. "The citizens liaison committee should be monitoring this and providing information for the community. This isn't happening."
Stubbert said an industrial approval doesn't give Pioneer Coal the go-ahead to bulldoze through wetland.
January 30, 2007
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.
Environment Department spokesman Bill Nunn confirmed it asked Pioneer to stop the road project after an inspector noticed last week it was being built on top of a previously unidentified wetlands area that had not been approved when a mining permit was issued last year.
"It’s difficult to determine," Mr. Nunn said when asked how long the probe could take before any charges are considered. "It’s not the whole project . . . the investigation is ongoing."
The previously unidentified area includes about 4.3 hectares of forest and wetlands at the northern tip of Point Aconi.
Mr. Nunn said the company moved elsewhere on the site to continue building another section of road.
On Sunday, provincial Environment Minister Mark Parent and other officials were confronted at a Sydney tar ponds cleanup announcement by some Boularderie Island residents armed with pictures.
The residents spoke of environmental changes they’ve noticed in the past three months since Pioneer moved into Point Aconi to clean up from generations of bootleg coal mining in the area.
The residents showed photos of orange precipitate apparently being discharged into Mac-Donald Brook, flooding near a lagoon, an overflowing settling pond and the hauling road being built through woods and wetlands.
Donna Stubbert of the group Citizens Against Strip Mining sees the Environment Department investigation as a good sign government is paying attention to residents’ concerns.
"This should have been checked out months ago before there was this much damage done," she said. "We’re hoping, if they’re doing their job, that this shouldn’t be taking place in the first place."
The group is awaiting a decision on an appeal it filed to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia to have the province’s mining permit permanently revoked.
|January 18, 2007
Green Party calls for halt to Cape Breton strip mining operation
Ottawa – Green Party leader Elizabeth May today joined Citizens Against Strip Mining, a Cape Breton group, in calling on Environment Minister John Baird to work to stop strip mining activities on Cape Breton island until such time as a full environmental assessment can be carried out at the Prince Mine site in Point Aconi. If Pioneer Coal proceeds with this devastating project, Cape Bretoners could see 13 more strip mines totalling 29,000 acres stretching along the coastline from Boularderie Island to Port Morien."
"Cape Bretoners do not want companies to strip mine their island. They are worried about the environmental devastation that strip mining may well bring, including habitat destruction, water pollution and depletion of fish stocks. As a federal politician with Cape Breton roots, I oppose this strip mine and urge Minister Baird to conduct an environmental assessment before this project goes any further."
May mulls which C.B. riding to contest
Greens leader deciding which Grit to take on
By TERA CAMUS Cape Breton Bureau
POINT ACONI — Green party Leader Elizabeth May is trying to decide where to run in Cape Breton in the next federal election.
Speaking Thursday to 65 residents of Boularderie Island, the straight-talking environmentalist said she believes she has strong support in both areas of Cape Breton, where she owns property and which she continues to call home....
... But regardless of where she decides to run, Ms. May says strip-mining in areas like Boularderie Island will be part of her party’s national platform.
She said Boularderie Island residents fear strip-mining for coal will cause irreversible harm to water supplies, wetlands and farms, reduce property values and hurt tourism and fishing. She said Ottawa has a role in protecting the environment.
Last September, the province granted Pioneer Coal of Stellarton a permit to strip-mine near the defunct Devco pit in Point Aconi. Residents have appealed to the Nova Scotia Supreme Court to have the permit yanked and are awaiting a decision, which is expected soon.
|"It’s not too late for Premier Rodney MacDonald to do the right thing and cancel that permit," Ms. May said. "Just look at the evidence, look at the acid mine drainage already. . . . It’s wrong to sell out a community and we don’t need another sacrificed zone on this island like the tar ponds, which have left a legacy of health problems and other harm."|
The Ministry of Natural Resources disagrees with residents. Don Jones, director of the ministry's Mineral Management Division, says the claim is "completely without any foundation whatsoever." He says there is no scientific proof that strip-mining will effect the water supply without clarifying whether or not the Point Aconi situation had been specifically investigated for possible consequences to groundwater supplies.
Jones, a civil servant, is quick to criticize Citizens Against Strip Mining's campaign, but offered little in the way of a counter argument.
Jones believes that the residents involved with Citizens Against Strip Mining are "effecting a fair manipulation of the media." He says they are presenting a one-sided view, but did not provide any concrete examples as to how.
"They're launching every [media] venue they can get a word out to," says Jones. "There are a large number [of residents] who don't mind, but are very quiet."
December 20, 2006
SYDNEY - To no surprise, councillors in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality approved an amendment to the municipal planning strategy that could require companies to obtain a development permit in order to strip mine in parts of the municipality.
In a swift pre-Christmas council meeting Tuesday, councillors passed the amendment 15-0 with councillors Vince Hall and Frank Morrison away an business.
The amendment needs to be approved by the Department of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.
"At least it is a step somewhere," said Baularderie resident Sharon MacLeod, who fears strip mining could contaminate wells.
"Not only do we have to worry about our water, but tourism, damage to the fisheries and everything else. It is damage to the very soul of a Cape Bretoner."
Changes to the planning strategy include refusing to grant development permits to companies wanting to extract coal in rural areas - described as without municipal sanitary sewer mains.
In other areas classified as urban planning zones, coal can only be extracted as part of a reclamation project at an abandoned colliery or the site of former bootleg pit.
Coun. Kevin Saccarv said he hopes the amendment gets provincial approval.
'There are lots of areas, something like a total of 14 areas, that have been designated by the provincial department of environment that are capable of being mined."
Last year, people in Port Marien fought against strip mining and the area was granted a three-year moratorium by the provincial government.
|NOVEMBER 17, 2006|
Pioneer Coal submitted its 100 page Environmental Assessment Registration Document to strip mine Point Aconi on May 30, 2005. On December 29, 2005 the Minister of Environment approved the project "based upon the review of the conceptual design" and issued 7 pages of Terms and Conditions and "details" Pioneer Coal must meet to receive Industrial Approval. Consequently, in May 2006 Pioneer Coal submitted its 25 page Industrial Approval Application Supporting Document and 18 page Environmental Protection Plan. On September 12, 2006 the Dept. of Environment issued its Industrial Approval subject to 15 pages of more meaningless Terms and Conditions. It is only at this stage that the Environment Act allows for a formal appeal to the Minister. Two appeals were filed. On November 17, 2006, despite the evidence put in front of him, Environment Minister Parent dismissed both appeals: "After careful review of the appeals, I have concluded that approval to Pioneer Coal was based on a complete application which included information and documentation in accordance with the provincial Approval Procedure Regulations". Click on the links to read his response to the appeals: Appeal 1 Appeal 2. On December 13, 2006 CASM filed an appeal of the Minister's decision to the Nova Scotia Supreme Court.
|Friday, November 3, 2006
MP calls for environmental assessment
Cape Breton Post
POINT ACONI - Sydney-Victoria MP Mark Eyking is calling on federal Environment Minister Rona Ambrose to conduct an environmental assessment of the proposed strip mining operation on Boularderie Island.
Citizens Against Strip Mining (CASM) on Boularderie Island contends that a number of conditions laid out by the province have not been met by Pioneer Coal.
The Antigonish company received a permit to extract 1.6 million tonnes of coal from a site near Point Aconi in September.
"It is my hope that the environnment minister will listen to area residents and halt this operation until a comprehensive federal assessment is completed, Eyking said.
"Area residents are concerned about their water, the destruction of wetlands and fish habitat. I remain oppposed to strip 'mining on Boularderie Island, and I am very disappointed that no action has been taken to adequately address the conrcerns of residents.
"Hopefully Ms. Ambrose will take action."
Friday, November 3, 2006
The decision on two appeals of an approval of a Point Aconi surface mine will be delayed by about two weeks, the Department of Environment and Labour said today, Nov. 3.
"The delay is caused by the length and complexity of the 316-page approval and because we have two appeals that have to be treated individually," said Mark Parent, Minister of Environment and Labour.
"We regret missing the deadline for this decision, but the appeals deserve full consideration and that is simply going to take more time."
The approval was issued to Pioneer Coal Ltd., of Antigonish.
A decision on the first of the appeals was due today.
|November 1, 2006
Click for transcript of the debate in the NS House of Assembly on the NDP's "Cape Breton Strip Mines Moratorium Act"
October 21, 2006
TRENTON — A horn blaring from an engine shunting coal at the Nova Scotia Power generating plant Thursday almost drowned out the speeches.
But protesters were able to get their point across: They don’t want the power company to burn coal in its generating plants anymore.
About 50 people marched down Power Plant Road at noon, waving or wearing signs saying the company must find other ways of generating power.
"We’re not going away," said Peter Boyles, spokesman for the Hillside-Trenton Environmental Watch Association, which is fighting against pollution from the generating plant that the group says is damaging people’s health and property.
Mr. Boyles said his group has proved its case "time after time," to no avail.
"It don’t matter to them guys who dies or who lives," he said.
About 15 members of Cape Breton Citizens Against Strip Mining drove to Trenton for the protest and to speak against the proposed open-face coal mine on Boularderie Island.
They said the project will permanently damage the aquifer and eliminate 19 hectares of wetlands, and they argued there are cleaner ways to produce energy than burning the site’s sulphurous coal.
Strip mine proponent John Chisholm has obtained the necessary permits, agreed Allan Nicholson.
"He can buy the politicians and he can buy the bureaucrats, but I’m a lawyer and I’m telling you he can’t buy the court," Mr. Nicholson said, to cheers.
Another Cape Breton man, Eskasoni Mi’kmaq elder Albert Marshall, said halting the use of coal will protect Mother Earth and so sustain future generations.
Members of the Atlantic Regional Solidarity Network argued that using coal from Colombia promotes human-rights violations in the South American country. Because Nova Scotia Power buys Columbian "blood coal," it is responsible for atrocities ranging from the murder of union leaders to moving whole villages from their homes without compensation.
The Ecology Action Centre offered a reminder that turning on the lights sends more pollution out the stacks from coal-burning generators, while another suggested everyone get politically involved at every level to get their message across more widely.
New Democrat MLAs Charlie Parker (Pictou West) and Clarrie MacKinnon (Pictou East) pledged support for clean energy projects and promised to raise the subject in the legislature.
Mr. MacKinnon said Nova Scotia Power has earmarked $22 million to extend the life of an old Trenton generator blamed for much of the local pollution.
That amount would go a long way to tap other energy sources like tidal or wind power, he said. Click for photos
October 17, 2006
SYDNEY - Council in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality is trying a different approach to stop strip mining like the proposed Pioneer Coal project on Boularderie Island.
Councillors agreed Monday to go ahead with a proposal from the planning and legal departments to change the municipal planning strategy and land-use bylaw to say strip mining is deemed to be development, an activity that would fall under the jurisdiction of that bylaw.
Large scale strip mining would be restricted to urban and suburban areas but only if it is part of a project to rehabilitate an abandoned colliery or bootleg mine to prevent subsidence.
Council asked staff to come up with a bylaw that would protect "virgin" areas such as Boularderie Island from strip mining.
Municipal planner Malcolm Gillis said in an issue paper the only tool given to municipalities to deal with strip mining is the authority found in the Municipal Government Act to adopt a municipal planning strategy and land-use bylaw to regulate development.
Language suggested by Gillis would admit the province is the government with primary jurisdiction over coal extraction but say council has grave concerns the industry proponents haven't exercised good environmental stewardship extracting the coal and rehabilitating the scarred landscape.
Regional solicitor Robin Campbell agreed after council's meeting Monday the province does have overall jurisdiction over coal extraction.
"I don't think there is any question about that;' he said. "But we have certain rights under the Municipal Government Act and we feel what has been put forward, we have and are entitled to, and they will have to agree or disagree when it gets to Halifax.
"We are taking our best shot - that is exactly what this is:'
Pioneer Coal Ltd. of Antigonish has received industrial approval from the Department of Environment and Labour to begin operating a strip mine at the former Prince mine site in Point Aconi.
The project is fiercely opposed by local residents in a group called Citizens Against Strip Mining
October 17, 2006
SYDNEY — The Cape Breton Regional Municipality held a special meeting Monday as it attempts to grapple with a strip mine land-use bylaw.
Councillors approved an issue paper presented by the planning department that outlined an amendment to the land-use bylaw to limit strip mining operations to urban areas and only if it’s part of a reclamation project. The planning department will host a public meeting in the coming week, then a public hearing will be held before the draft is sent to the province.
But the municipality may not have the authority to make such an amendment, since coal and its extraction fall under the province’s control.
"Hopefully there will be a strong motion (at the hearing) to present to the government opposing strip mining," said councillor Wes Stubbert, whose district includes an approved strip mine on Boularderie Island.
"Although we have no jurisdiction over it, we have to represent the people," said Mr. Stubbert.
Malcolm Gillis, manager of development with the municipal planning department, said after the meeting that the chances of the amendment getting provincial approval "aren’t great but there is a slim chance, so we should try."
The amendment, should it pass all these hurdles, will not affect Pioneer Coal’s plan to strip-mine on Boularderie Island, said Mr. Stubbert.
"It very likely won’t stop that," he said.
Sunday, October 15th, 2006
Nova Scotians have been mining coal for three hundred years and now the provincial government hopes to revive it. It wants to do this not just for the energy but to clean up what it considers a dangerous mess left by previous underground mining. According to the government, past mining efforts left us with public hazards from holes and waste rock piles and it sees surface mining or strip mining as the best way to fix this. But Cape Bretoners are not strangers to their own legacy of strip mining and they didn't like the experience so the government's plan is running into a lot of opposition. Filmed in May and originally broadcast on June 4, 2006.
Monday, October 2, 2006
POINT ACONI — Trouble erupted at the site of a proposed Northside surface mine Saturday when opponents of the operation formed a human barrier to prevent mine operators from moving equipment onto the site.
Members of the Citizens Against Mining committee were about to give a CTV news reporter a tour of the Prince Mine facility, a proposed location for Pioneer Coal’s strip mining operation, when a flat bed truck carrying equipment appeared at the gates.
Members of the committee were going to let the truck freely pass, but changed their minds when more trucks carrying more equipment arrived.
“We just stood in front of the fence and said ‘you are not taking them in,’” said Donna Stubbert, one of three CAM committee members about to give the tour.
The situation soon escalated to an argument between a truck driver and committee member Alan Nicholson. Police then arrived to mediate the two parties.
According to Stubbert, it was decided the equipment would be left outside a fence surrounding the mine site, but tension continued to grow when efforts to put the equipment inside the mine grounds continued.
“We moved back and co-operated and then all of a sudden one of the flatbeds backed into the other fence and knocked it down and they unloaded the machinery.
“After that, Alan Nicholson was standing in front of the gate (to the mine) and (a site manager) tried to close the gate and hit him with it. Now Alan is pressing charges.”
There could be further legal action pending as well. Indications are Pioneer Coal will file an injunction that keeps CASM members from occupying the site.
A message left at the home of Pioneer Coal owner John Chisholm was not returned.
As of Sunday, confirmation of any charges or injunctions could not be confirmed with the North Division of the Cape Breton Regional Police Service.
Pioneer Coal has a coal lease on 228 hectares, including some 18 hectares of wetlands in the area.
The residents claim the strip mine, which has already received government approval, will hurt the surrounding environment and ruin their communities.
“They are planning to clean up the (Prince) site as far as I can understand. What people need to realize (is) it is the forested area outside the fence that Chisholm is going to be strip mining.”
|October 1, 2006
Protesters block crews at future strip mine site
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.
|September 16, 2006
Demolition to begin at former mine
BY WES STEWART
CAPE BRETON POST
POINT ACONI - Pioneer Coal of Antigonish will begin the initial work of demolishing build- ings and tidying up the site of the former Prince mine in a week of so.
Company president John Chisholm said Friday it may be late in the year before any coal is extracted, depending on the success they have in securing con- tracts for the coal. He hopes to sell the coal to Nova Scotia Power.
Local people will be hired as truck drivers, equipment operators, lab and weight scale people.
"Generally these sites run around 50 people," but the amount of coal to be mined in any year impact job numbers and the time it will take to remove the coal and remediate the site, he said.
The company received Environment and Labour approval for the industrial permit this week allowing it to extract the near surface coal, provided it abides by 50 conditions that minimize changes to the landscape, protect groundwater and wildlife and monitor wetlands.
"This one reminds me a little bit of Westville when we walked in there in 1984, because all the old structures, buildings and mess that was left by 150 years of mining were there.
"In this case we have 30 years of mess,,and we have to clean all of that up," Chisholm said.
Boularderie Island residents, led by the Citizens Against Strip Mining, promise to continue to oppose strip mining.
Initially the company will do site preparatory work, clearing the land, digging drainage ditches and building a settling pond.
Chisholm has extended an invitation to people to tour other sites where his company has had operations and remediated.
September 15, 2006
BOULARDERIE ISLAND — A community group will appeal a government decision that gave the go-ahead to strip mining here.
"We plan to appeal to the environment minister," Sylvia Cantwell, a member of Citizens against Strip Mining , said Tuesday. The group is also mulling a request for an injunction against Pioneer Coal, the company that plans to do surface mining on an 85-hectare site near Point Aconi.
The province gave its approval Sept. 12, imposing 50 conditions on the company, such as monitoring wetlands and ground water.
Plans were discussed at a meeting Monday night at the Millville Community Centre, where Ms. Cantwell estimated 300 people gathered to express their outrage at the approval.
A fundraising committee was formed to raise money needed to launch any court cases, she said.
September 15, 2006
SYDNEY — A police van big enough to hold most of the protesters who showed up for an anti-strip mining rally in Sydney on Thursday managed to block the view of their intended audience — commuters on busy Charlotte Street.
Several Cape Breton Regional Police vehicles were parked at the site well in advance of the arrival of a dozen or so protesters for what had been expected to be a loud protest drawing hundreds of Boularderie Island residents.
September 13, 2006
Some opponents of a Point Aconi surface coal mine approved Tuesday have vowed to lie down in front of bulldozers to stop the project.
"People are shocked and extremely disappointed to hear the province is allowing a huge strip mine in this lush tourism and farming area," opponent Sylvia Cantwell said.
Boularderie Island resident Donna Stubbert said an emergency meeting of opponents of the project will be called as soon as possible to map a strategy to derail the mine.
September 13, 2006
Point Aconi - Boularderie Island residents appetite for another strip mine operation will be tested again.
Environment and Labour has signed off on the industrial approval, the final stage in the assessment process allowing Pioneer Coal of Antigonish to strip mine for near surface coal around the former Prince mine.
June 21, 2006
SYDNEY - Devco has budgeted $16 million this year for remediation work at Cape Breton sites, but the bulk of the money will be spent at its former coal preparation plant in Victoria Junction.
Board chairman Gordon MacInnis said the remediation work is being managed by Public Works and Government Services Canada and included a $10-million expenditure last fiscal year.
Besides the major engineering capping of the mine waste dump at the VJ plant, work is also underway at the former Princess colliery site in Sydney Mines andthe Summit in New Waterford.
Devco sold 1,000 acres encompassing the former Donkin mine site to Xstrata Coal, the company working to develop the mothballed mine. The land is located at Cape Pierce, Donkin, and comprises the peninsula land as well as a transportation/utility corridor leading to and from the site.
The Prince mine property, 200 acres, in Point Aconi has been bought by Pioneer Coal of Stellarron.
Saturday, June 10, 2006
NORTH SYDNEY - On the doorsteps in North Sydney and Sydney Mines, there is a mix of issues swirling around the candidates in next week's provincial election in Cape Breton North.
"Some are health care, the need for more long-term health beds, strip mining and certainly tuition costs for students," said New Democratic Party candidate Russell MacDonald.
MacDonald, a former teacher and principal, and Liberal Party candidate Fred Tilley, a local school board member, agree the issue of strip mining is common talk on this part of the island. However, Progressive Conservative leader and riding incumbent Cecil Clarke disagrees.
"It's minor to say the least," said Clarke. "It's not the issue on the Northside, it's an issue."
June 9, 2006
POINT ACONI - Citizens Against Strip Mining see the First Nation elders as their last hope in the fight against strip mining on Cape Breton Island.
"Government is not listening, we have nowhere else to go," said group spokesperson Donna Stubbert. "We've been fighting against strip mining for 16 months and finally we see there is light at the end of the tunnel."
During a press conference in Point Aconi, Thursday, native elders threw their suppprt behind CASM in the fight against strip mining on Boularderie Island. This support could possibly include an injunction to stop the project.
Sunday, June 4th, 2006
Nova Scotians have been mining coal for three hundred years and now the provincial government hopes to revive it. It wants to do this not just for the energy but to clean up what it considers a dangerous mess left by previous underground mining. According to the government, past mining efforts left us with public hazards from holes and waste rock piles and it sees surface mining or strip mining as the best way to fix this. But Cape Bretoners are not strangers to their own legacy of strip mining and they didn't like the experience so the government's plan is running into a lot of opposition.
May 21, 2006
Federal Liberal leadership candidate Scott Brison visited Cape Breton on Saturday, attending a rally in North Sydney and visiting some former strip mine sites.
Mr. Brison met with representatives of Citizens Against Strip Mining and spent about an hour touring several sites near the Prince mine, at the end of Point Aconi Road.
"I think that like most people that come on these tours, they are amazed how much damage is still there," Earl Cantwell, a spokesman for the citizens group, said Saturday.
"Someone of his calibre and his position, taking time to visit with us at this busy juncture, is indicating how serious this issue is."
MP Mark Eyking, MLA Gerald Sampson and Fred Tilly, the candidate running in Cape Breton North, joined Mr. Brison on the tour.
May 18, 2006
POINT ACONI - Premier Rodney MacDonald said in an interview with the Cape Breton Post, Wednesday, that he has taken a number of steps to address concerns raised by people who don't want strip mining on Cape Breton.
Community Against Strip Mining has been applying constant pressure on the government to prevent Pioneer Coal Company of Stellarton from recovering remaining near surface coal and doing site remediation at the former Prince Mine.
At the end of the day, this issue is about cleaning up those sites and finding the best way to do it and in the environmentally right way as well, the premier said.
|From: "Lawrence G MacDonald", Nova Scotia Dept. Environment & Labour
Sent: Wednesday, May 17, 2006 3:28 PM
Subject: Status of Pioneer Coal Application
Thank you for your inquiry about the status of Pioneer Coal's application for an open surface coal mine in the vicinity of the former Prince Mine site. We received an application for an Industrial Approval from Pioneer Coal on Monday, May 15th. The first step in any review of an application is to determine if the information is complete to allow for an evaluation. The legislation provides a window of 14 days for this level of assessment. The 14 days allows staff to balance their time against their current workload.
If deemed incomplete, the applicant will be notified the application is incomplete and will be provided with a list of deficiences. This procedure will be repeated for each subsequent submission until the application package is deemed to be complete.
Staff is in the preliminary stage of reviewing the application package for completeness only.
Once staff is satisfied the application package is complete, then a detailed review involving professional and technical staff will begin. The legislation provides a 60 day review period for this process. Routine matters may be processed well in advance of the 60 day time frame limitation, while more complex applications will require the full 60 days.
The above information is a very brief overview and is meant to provide a quick focus about some aspects of the time frames associated with the approval process.
|May 10, 2006
Battle over strip mines comes to legislature
Protesters holding signs, wearing pins and handing out pamphlets gathered outside Province House in Halifax on Tuesday to protest strip mining in Cape Breton.
Sylvia Cantwell, a member of Citizens Against Strip Mining who has lived on Boularderie Island for more than 50 years, said surface mining is a threat to residents and the environment.
"We’ve been fighting this now for 14 months, and the government just keeps saying no and not really giving us a good reason. They just keep saying it has to be done."
The group claims the coal is of poor quality and not worth the damage that will be done to the environment.
MONDAY, MAY 8, 2006
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.
MR. GORDON GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, it's a pleasure to rise tonight and speak on the Throne Speech. The first item I would like to address is my government's firm and full commitment. Firm commitment. Commitment to what? Almost seven years of government, what have they been committed to? Not too much. Health care - supporting families, threatening communities, building brighter futures, and I'll go with a text out of that page, and the quality of our air and water are just a few.
Could you imagine the quality of air and water in the strip mine in Boularderie Island in Point Aconi? Could you imagine the water table when they're finished gutting that beautiful part of Cape Breton Island? Can you imagine that, Mr. Speaker? The devastation of strip mining, the scar it would leave. Portable water will be nowhere for the people who live over there. That's the full commitment. Strengthening our communities.
May 7, 2006
LITTLE BRAS D’OR — About 75 people lined both sides of Highway 105 in Little Bras d’Or on Saturday to protest a proposed surface mine in Point Aconi.
"We’re hoping to draw further attention to the problem we’re facing out here on Boularderie Island," said Allan Nicholson, a legal aid lawyer and activist against strip mining.
Hundreds of Cape Bretoners from Boularderie Island to Port Morien have protested against surface mining for more than a year, arguing that the industry harms agriculture, the fishery, tourism, water sources, roads and property values.
Natural Resources Minister Brooke Taylor recently placed a three-year development moratorium on 13 potential strip mine sites in Cape Breton but stopped short of imposing a complete ban, announcing a scaled-back version of the Point Aconi mine proposed by John Chisholm, owner of Pioneer Coal in Antigonish.
Mr. Nicholson said there will be "a very severe response" if Pioneer Coal even tries to fell trees at the proposed site in preparation for mining activity.
"We can’t allow that to happen," he said. "That’s when the civil disobedience is unfortunately going to have to come in."
Mr. Nicholson said protesters plan to block any harvesting or excavating equipment from entering the site.
"They can haul us off to jail," he said. "They haven’t got enough room for the people they got in there now."
Mr. Nicholson said a group of activists opposed to surface mining plans to travel to Halifax on Tuesday to hold an information picket outside the legislature.
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."
Mr. Clarke said he doesn’t think a surface mine would affect Boularderie Island’s water quality, explaining that the now-defunct Prince underground mine didn’t seem to affect water on the island.
"That’s part of the review that the minister of natural resources is undertaking," he said.
May 6th, 2006
|Amidst much honking and waving, over 70 concerned citizens picketed on the Trans Canada Highway at Bras d'Or from 11am to 1pm before driving to the Big Fiddle in Sydney for Peter MacKay's $11 million announcement|
|ß After sneeking in the
back door, Rodney huddles with CASM members as Cecil lurks.
Cecil Clarke, Mayor Morgan wearing his Stop Strip Mining button, Premier Rodney at the podium, and Peter MacKay à
|April 28, 2006
Province setting up expert panel on mining
By JOCELYN BETHUNE
BADDECK — The province will establish a scientific research program to study surface mining sites and land reclamation.
A committee of experts representing the mining industry, academia, government, and research and public interest groups will review scientific literature, ecological studies and recommendations for test vegetation plots, among other issues, it said in a draft of the plan.
Natural Resources Minister Brooke Taylor spoke of the initiative while attending a Tory caucus retreat in Baddeck. A formal announcement is expected soon.
"This government wants to ensure the best management practices are employed at all surface mining sites in the future and that is recognizing and acknowledging that there has been some trouble at existing sites that haven’t been reclaimed to their full potential," Mr. Taylor said outside a Baddeck resort.
The committee will "go out and come back with some good solid data, do evaluations and an assessment of the sites," said Mr. Taylor, adding he walked through the two former surface mines sites in Point Aconi and near New Waterford two weeks ago.
"It’s fairly obvious that on those sites remediation hasn’t taken place," he said, noting he and Premier Rodney MacDonald flew over several sites last week.
"We want to send a strong signal to Nova Scotians and especially Cape Bretoners that we are very serious and very genuine about addressing some of the concerns that they have addressed."
April 27, 2006
Halifax journalist, Janet McLeod, visits Boularderie Island in Cape Breton to find out how strip mining is affecting the local population. The community has formed a coalition, Citizens Against Strip Mining, to raise awareness about the detrimental long-term effects of strip-mining. Yet many depend on the industry for their jobs.
April 26, 2006
BOULARDERIE - NDP Leader Darrell Dexter is disappointed by the MacDonald government's continued refusal to listen to Cape Breton communities who do not want to see strip mining on the island.
In a release Tuesday, Dexter said that with Conservatives holding their caucus meeting in Baddeck later this week, he expects them to use the opportunity to see for themselves why there is widespread support for a complete moratorium on strip mining in Cape Breton, and to realize that they can no longer avoid the issue.
"I wrote the Premier on March 8, asking for him to reconsider his government's position on strip mining in Cape Breton," Dexter said. "I had high expectations for MacDonald and his new ministers of environment and natural resources but these expectations have not been met."
According to Dexter, the April 3 announcement by the ministers of natural resources and environment did nothing to protect the landscape of Cape Breton from being gutted by strip mines.
He said the largest and most contentious strip mining project on Boularderie Island was unaffected by the moratorium as that tender has already been accepted.
The NDP has repeatedly called for all strip mining on the island to be halted until full public consultation takes place.
April 26, 2006
LITTLE POND - More than 100 opponents of strip mining from across Cape Breton joined local fishermen, Tuesday, to protest the application by Cape Crushing for a permit to extract about 5,500 tonnes of coal from the Merritt Point site in Little Pond.
Lobster fisherman Keith Boutilier, whose property on Beechview Drive borders the mine site, said strip mining has already affected the fishing grounds.
"I used to have 100 lobster traps in the cove across from that mine site, last year I had 11," Boutilier said. "It's been about a year since Brogan's were strip mining on that site. The environmental study done on the adjacent site several years ago shouldn't apply to this site now under Cape Crushing."
April 4, 2006
Tuesday, April 4, 2006
Sydney - The province announced Monday it’s clawing back the size of a coal lease in Point Aconi by 40 per cent. The decision will limit the ability of Pioneer Coal Ltd. from expanding beyond its current lease to strip mine for coal.
A three-year moratorium will also be in place on another 13 potential coal lease sites from the former Devco lease.
“We want to make sure we get this right so we’re stepping back and reviewing the situation. We’re going to closely scrutinize it,” said Natural Resources Minister Brooke Taylor, during a hastily called afternoon news conference in downtown Sydney.
He was joined by Environment and Labour Minister Carolyn Bolivar-Getson, who toured the site in Point Aconi with Taylor earlier in the day.
Members of Citizens Against Strip Mining, who were incidentally attending a Cape Breton Regional Municipality committee meeting at the Civic Centre next door at the time, were hot on the heels of the two cabinet ministers to get answers on their decision.
However, they weren’t allowed access to the ministers and were forced to protest outside the Cambridge Suites hotel where the news conference was held.
April 4, 2006
SYDNEY — Strip mining in Cape Breton got a little tougher Monday.
Natural Resources Minister Brooke Taylor placed a three-year development moratorium on 13 potential strip mine sites in Cape Breton but stopped short of a complete ban when he announced a scaled-back version of a surface mine in the works for Boularderie Island.
Pioneer Coal of Antigonish has so far received provincial industrial approval to develop a surface mine in Point Aconi, Mr. Taylor said. The proposed site, on 288 hectares of what is now mostly wetlands and forest near the defunct underground Prince mine, had been 42 per cent larger before Monday’s announcement and contains multiple shallow coal pits illegally dug by hand over the years.
April 3, 2006
The province has put 13 potential surface mine sites on hold for the next three years and has scaled back plans for a controversial one in Point Aconi.
The government announced the new strategy for strip mines in Cape Breton on Monday.
Many residents in the Point Aconi area have lobbied against strip mining, saying it damages the environment and lowers the property values of their homes.
Now government officials say they will work closely with Pioneer Coal Ltd., the company planning to strip mine at the former Prince Mine site, to address concerns about noise, dust and damage to nearby wells.
"We're going to assess, evaluate and examine the Point Aconi site. We're going to be lock-step with the proponent every step of the way on this new reduced tract of land," said Natural Resources Minister Brooke Taylor.
Thursday, March 30, 2006
The new government of Rodney MacDonald has opened the door slightly to possible changes to a proposed strip mine development in Point Aconi - in an attempt to appease angry residents.
The premier said Wednesday he and his cabinet ministers are keeping a close eye on the progress made by Pioneer Coal Ltd. of Antigonish, as it meets the necessary environmental and industrial approvals necessary to open the site at the former Prince mine.
But he added the views of residents must be weighed with the prospect of economic development that spurs job growth in the area.
"Since we've formed the new government over the last month (we've) reviewed the situation, to see what people are saying, to talk to Pioneer (Coal), to see what possible steps we might be able to take," MacDonald told a Cape Breton Post editorial board meeting.
Monday, March 27, 2006
Opponents of strip mining took their protest to the streets of Sydney Sunday.
A motorcade of about 100 vehicles wound its way downtown to the Esplanade, where politicians from every level of government addressed the crowd.
"The government in Halifax and anybody that thinks there's a potential of strip mining in Cape Breton should see the force we have here this afternoon to recognize it's not going to go easy for them," said Liberal MP Mark Eyking.
Liberal MLA Gerald Sampson pointed out there were no Tory MLAs at the rally.
"The present Conservative government has failed miserably to listen to the people," Sampson said.
Last December, the province approved an environmental assessment — with conditions — for a strip mine in Point Aconi. Pioneer Coal Ltd. is now moving ahead with its plans for the former Prince mine site.
Many residents in the area have spoken out against the surface mining of coal, saying it threatens the environment and lowers the value of surrounding properties.
The leader of the Official Opposition reminded the crowd his New Democrats have introduced a bill to ban strip mining until public consultation on a particular proposal is complete.
"My party's commitment is to raise the profile of this issue, not only in Cape Breton but right across the province," said NDP Leader Darrell Dexter.
The mayor of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, John Morgan, urged residents to take note of any MLAs "who would turn their back on you."
Monday, March 27, 2006
SYDNEY — Speaker after speaker at an anti-surface mining rally in Sydney attended by hundreds Sunday afternoon tore a strip off Premier Rodney MacDonald and his Conservative cabinet ministers for not being there and not listening to residents’ concerns.
"We have to make sure that the message gets out loud and clear to the government of the province of Nova Scotia that there will be no strip mining of coal in this region," Mayor John Morgan of Cape Breton Regional Municipality said to loud applause.
"We have seen the results of strip mining in days past but we will not let you damage this region further."
Monday, March 27, 2006
SYDNEY – Strip mining opponents came out in full force Sunday for the largest rally they’ve held so far against having areas of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality turn into “moonscapes.”
A parade of more than 100 vehicles honking their horns stretched from Kings Road to the Sydney Marine Terminal on the Esplanade.
Inside the Joan Harriss Cruise Pavilion, families with children almost too young to walk and homeowners who say their properties will be at risk if strip mining developments are allowed, gathered alongside a number of politicians who were sticking up for their cause.
Ethel Briggs, a resident of Homeville, a community located outside Port Morien, said she’s extremely worried a strip mining development might open up in her backyard.
“We’re really opposed to it. It has no long-term benefits at all,” she said as the parade of cars wound behind the marine terminal.
“There are going to be impacts on the environment and our future. Our land value and possible damage to our well water system is a big part of why we’re here today.”
Saturday, March 26, 2006
After a 200 car rally, hundreds of concerned citizens together with CBRM Councillors, Victoria County Councillors, CBRM Mayor, Victoria County Warden, Provincial MLA's and your Member of Parliament, came together to speak out against strip mining on Boularderie Island. Speaker after speaker, of all political strips, asked the Provincial Government to listen to the people of Boularderie Island. Many spoke of the uncertainty of a continued safe supply of drinking water in their wells, the need to protect the landscape and ensure the farming operations on Boularderie Island are not put in jeopardy.
Friday, March 24, 2006
SYDNEY — A Cape Breton group opposed to surface coal mining is turning its protest up a notch with a rally planned for Sunday afternoon in Sydney.
"We’re hoping for hundreds," said Earl Cantwell, a Boularderie Island resident and a spokesman for Citizens Against Strip Mining. "We’re getting a great response from Sydney, New Waterford, Glace Bay and the Northside, of course. There’s going to be people from all over."
Protesters plan to gather at 2 p.m. next to the Service Nova Scotia Access Centre at 380 Kings Rd. in Sydney and drive as part of a motorcade to the Joan Harris Cruise Pavilion on the Esplanade.
Mr. Cantwell said members of his group want to send a message to provincial politicians such as Cape Breton North MLA Cecil Clarke and Premier Rodney MacDonald that strip mining won’t be accepted anywhere in Cape Breton.
"It’s pretty simple what the message is," said Mr. Cantwell. "Hopefully with bigger numbers, maybe they’ll start to listen."
Brogan Mining of Florence and Pioneer Coal of Stellarton have expressed an interest in continuing to mine surface coal in Cape Breton. Pioneer Coal was given conditional approval by the province earlier this year to strip-mine coal in Point Aconi.
Cape Breton regional council voted recently to sue the provincial government so that it can control anything that resembles strip mining in the municipality.
Hundreds of Cape Breton residents from Boularderie Island to Port Morien have protested against strip mining for more than a year by marching to the legislature and picketing news events.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
POINT ACONI — The owner of a surface coal mining company says he’s surprised to learn a multinational might be interested in mining a Cape Breton site.
Pioneer Coal president John Chisholm, whose company owns the right to mine coal on the former Prince mine site, says it comes as news to him that the province is entertaining the possibility of Xstrata Coal developing the site.
Cecil Clarke, the member of the legislature for Cape Breton North, said last week the Australian-based mining company is prepared to assess the feasibility of opening the flooded 35-year-old mine.
The mine closed in 2001 when Devco ceased mining operations. Xstrata was recently awarded the right to assess the feasibility of developing the Donkin mine.
But Chisholm says his firm has exclusive rights to mine the coal at Prince.
He says Pioneer Coal will begin recovering coal and remediating the former Prince mine site when it receives an industrial permit.
The permit is the final step in a lengthy process to allow companies to remediate former mine sites and recover the near- surface coal.
The province awarded the coal block to Chisholm’s Stellarton-based company.
Chisholm said if he was considering doing a development in Australia, for example, he would first check out the property, contact natural resources officials, mining experts, and the power company that might potentially purchase the coal.
"Those are basic things you do before planning to open a mine," he said. "I think (Xstrata’s) credibility is going to be hurt on Donkin because of this."
Pioneer Coal responded to the province’s call for proposals to do coal recovery on four sites it identified in the Sydney coalfield, "and we followed the rules all the way through," Chisholm said.
Citizens Against Strip Mining has launched stiff opposition to further strip mining in Cape Breton.
Saturday, March 18, 2006
Friday, March 10, 2006
SYDNEY – An island-wide resolve to stop strip mining was obvious among the young and old who protested in front of a Sydney engineering firm, Thursday.
"This protest is peaceful, but we are determined there will be no more strip mining", said Millville resident David MacDonald, one of more than 60 people from communities around the industrial area who carried picket signs with ‘Stop Strip Mining’ on them.
Citizens Against Strip Mining spokesman Earl Cantwell of Boularderie Island, said one of the conditions that Pioneer Coal has to meet before it can proceed with the open surface mine in Point Aconi is to appoint a community liaison committee, but not before a required public meeting.
“The CLC (community liaison committee) was supposed to come out of a process of public consultation,” Cantwell said. “The company circumvented that process by advertising for members who they will hand-pick for their committee.”
The protest drew people from many of the former mining communities.
March 09, 2006
Hon. Rodney MacDonald
Dear Premier MacDonald,
I am writing you today concerning the issue of strip mining in Cape Breton. I believe that you and your Cabinet have an excellent opportunity to make a fresh start in the Government’s approach to this issue. With new Ministers in place and your Cape Breton background, I have high expectations that you will appreciate how Cape Bretoners feel about this issue.
I and members of my caucus took the time and visited the area with members of Citizens Against Strip Mining. We toured a number of areas, including Big Bras d'Or, Black Rock, King's Grove Road, Prince Mine Road, Little Pond and Point Aconi. I urge you and your Ministers to do the same at your earliest opportunity. One thing we all found difficult to understand was why anyone would put at risk what is so obviously an attractive way of life, is a jewel for the provincial tourism industry and an important area for the agricultural and fishing industries all for what will essentially be a very short term gain.
Opinions expressed by those we met with were unanimous, they expressed frustration with the lack of public consultation on the issue and feel their concerns about the impact on the environment and on industries such as tourism, agriculture and the fisheries, have been ignored. What tourist is going to want to visit a moonscape left by strip mining, who will want to farm in this area and if the fishery is damaged what will happen to the fishermen?
The NDP Caucus produced what we see as the best solution to this problem. We introduced Bill 194 in the House of Assembly and it essentially puts in place a moratorium on strip mining until such time as there's meaningful public consultation.
Again, I ask that you have your Government rethink its position on strip mining in Cape Breton and urge you and representatives of the Cabinet to meet with the Citizens Against Strip Mining at your earliest availability.
March 8, 2006
Hon. Rodney MacDonald
Dear Premier MacDonald
First off I want to congratulate you on receiving the confidence of your party by becoming its leader, an accomplishment you should be very proud of. I am confident you will lead your party with dignity.
I also write today on behalf of the Citizens Against Strip Mining (CASM) from Cape Breton. As you are aware this group has been very vocal in opposing strip mining on Boularderie Island.
As Member of Parliament I have agreed to be part of a delegation, including elected and non-elected community representatives that would travel to Halifax to meet with members of your Government. I request that this delegation be afforded an opportunity to meet with cabinet, to rationally discuss the issues of proposed strip mining on Boularderie Island.
My office is available to assist in the logistics of coordinating such a meeting.
Mark Eyking, M.P.
March 7, 2006
POINT ACONI - Pioneer Coal Ltd. is looking for people to sit on a community liaison committee associated with its proposal to strip-mine and remediate the former Prince Mine site in Point Aconi.
A first step is to set out the terms of reference for the committee.
The Stellarton-based mining company answered a call for proposals in 2003 by the mining branch of the Department of Natural Resources to develop a plan to mine the near-surface coal and remediate the former Devco mine.
Don Jones, manager of minerals for DNR, said the committee is one of a number of conditions the company must meet in getting an industrial approval for operating the mine.
"That's when they actually get the details down as to how they have to monitor the site; it puts great detail to the site monitoring, the impact mitigation work they have to do."
The Department of the Environment set out a number of conditions as part of the environmental assessment Pioneer must meet before the department signs off on the mine.
Saturday, March 4, 2006
There are three simple lessons in this, lessons that do not seem to have been properly understood by the former minister of natural resources, Richard Hurlburt, in his recent article in this newspaper with regard to strip mining in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality (Consider the positives too, Weekend Feedback, Feb. 11).
Lesson No. 1: Governments do indeed change their mind. They do it all the time. We call it democracy, or the will of the people.
Lesson No. 2: Cabinet ministers do have the power to say no. That is why we elect them. Proposed legislation that might adversely affect a significant number of constituents, in any part of the province, can be withdrawn. That is also called democracy.
Lesson No. 3: No is an option. Without the right to say no, the democratic process does not work. Granted, business people do have a right to submit applications for leases to strip mine, but that does not imply that these applications will be approved, or should be approved.
We now have a new young premier, Rodney MacDonald, and a newly appointed minister of natural resources, Brooke Taylor. Would it be too much to hope that now is the time to take a new look at this legislation regarding strip mining, an issue that is so offensive to so many in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality?
March 1, 2006
NEW WATERFORD - There will be a public meeting to rally opponents of strip mining 2 p.m., Sunday at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 3236 Plummer Ave.
The meeting will be chaired by William Pembroke, president of the New Waterford and Area Fish and Game Association.
Pembroke is hoping there will be a large turnout of concerned citizens at the meeting, as well as municipal councillors representing some of the threatened areas in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.
Possible strip mining sites include Lingan, Kaneville, New Victoria, Gardiner Mines, Reserve and Port Morien.
The danger of strip mining contaminating municipal water sources in the area is a major concern. The aquifer underlying eastern Cape Breton provides drinking water to many communities and must be protected, Pembroke said.
February 24, 2006
If our new premier is serious about addressing the environmental issues facing us as a province, great! It’s high time someone did. Here’s a Top 10 list (by no means comprehensive) of some key things he should do to make good on his environmental commitment:
1. Dramatically reduce the amount of clearcutting allowed in Nova Scotia’s forests – particularly on publicly owned Crown land – and promote more ecologically sensitive forestry practices.
2. Protect more natural areas for wildlife and low-impact recreation – starting with the Liscomb, Blandford and Chignecto game sanctuaries.
3. Stop the environmentally destructive strip-mining plans facing communities like Boularderie Island and Port Morien in Cape Breton, and the similarly destructive mega-quarry planned for Digby Neck.
February 17, 2006
Mayor John Morgan is calling on the federal environment minister to conduct a full panel review of proposed strip mine sites in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality before development of those properties can begin.
It's the latest attempt by the municipality to stop the industry from gaining a foothold in the CBRM.
Saturday, February 11, 2006
Consider the positives too -
Surface mining offers an opportunity to rehabilitate areas left
For the past year, articles, letters to the editor and columns by several Cape Breton residents have promoted an end to suface mining on the island. Their views, the only ones being heard, suggest that there are no positive aspects to surface mining.
The public meeting on July 12, 2005, at Memorial High School in Sydney Mines was an effort to provide full and accurate information. Don Jones, director of mineral development and management with the Department of Natural Resources, made a presentation about surface mining in Cape Breton. During this meeting, Mr. Jones said about surface mining: "No is not an option. No is not a realistic approach."
February 10, 2006
Dear Honourable Ministers:
"There is virtually no public support in this region for the proposed strip mines; therefore, I am requesting that both the Federal and Provincial Governments ensure that all appropriate federal authorizations are obtained. I am also requesting a full panel review of the proposed strip mines be conducted before proponents are given authorization to proceed." - CBRM Mayor John W. Morgan
Click to read full text of letter
February 7, 2006
Sydney Mines - Elizabeth May voiced her opposition to the provincial government’s plan to allow strip mining of coal on Cape Breton and vowed to find a legal challenge to stop the process.
The executive director of the Sierra Club of Canada spoke to well over 100 concerned citizens, Monday evening at a meeting at the new fossil centre in Sydney Mines.
"I’m really thrilled to see so many people here," said May. "I know you’re not here to hear me speak - you’re here because you’re dead set against strip mining!"
Strip mining first became an issue on Cape Breton in December 2003 after federal coal leases were turned over to the province. The Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources issued a call for proposals for four coal blocks in Birch Grove-Port Morien, Broughton, Point Aconi and Boularderie Island.
"It’s appalling to me that we could be talking in the year 2006 about opening up strip mines in Boularderie Island," said May. "This is a throwback to something we might have put up with 100 years ago, but it makes absolutely no sense in 2006."
Numerous community meetings and protests have been held, said May, and surveys have showed more than 70 per cent of those polled are against strip mining on the island.
Nevertheless, Environment and Labour Minister Kerry Morash last week issued an environmental assessment approval - the first of two approvals required for a surface coal mining project - for Pioneer Coal of Antigonish to mine at the Point Aconi site.
"We still have in this province an astonishingly stubborn government that does not seem to want to listen to the views of local communities," said May.
"The (John) Hamm government and people who promote these kinds of projects always make it look as though anyone who’s opposed to them destroying other local jobs or destroying the environment to grab some short-term advantage, is somehow against progress or has no better idea or is just against people making money.
"I’m against a company coming in here and stealing money from the fishermen and the farmers and the tourist operators who already make a decent livelihood on Boularderie Island and don’t want strip mining.
"And I’m against the province of Nova Scotia telling us that it’s in our best interest when they’ve got a claim of a one dollar a ton royalty.
"How come they’re bought so cheap?"
She said Cape Breton North MLA Cecil Clarke and the next premier (a new Tory party leader will be elected this weekend) must be convinced that strip mining doesn’t make any economic sense or environmental sense and it doesn’t makes sense for the community.
The government must reject strip mining and change their process from pushing these mines through, she added.
Sunday, January 29, 2006
SYDNEY — They say it’s a battle worth fighting, no matter the cost.
Mayor John Morgan and his council voted last week to sue the provincial government so that they can control anything that resembles strip mining in Cape Breton Regional Municipality.
Despite their own lawyer’s advice Tuesday night not to start a war they likely cannot win, council members instructed staff to investigate and draft potential new anti-strip-mining bylaws using the provincial Municipal Government Act, which says municipalities can "regulate the use of land."
"You really do have an area of lawlessness from a development perspective with respect to strip mining in this region," Mr. Morgan told The Chronicle Herald in an interview this week to justify the planned suit against the province, the second legal war approved by council in less than a year. The first was over the amount of money it was getting from the Nova Scotia government... ...
Most of the anger and frustration has been directed at provincial Energy Minister Cecil Clarke, whose home is in the very place they’re trying to protect.
According to the province, there are 132 former mine sites — some legal, some not — up for "reclamation" in Cape Breton. It’s called reclamation because potentially dangerous old tunnels are dug up during mining and the land cleaned up and left flat afterward, so that it can be used for other purposes. The sites are diverse, from vast fields of grass, to deep blue lakes, to wastelands with cliffs and gaping rock faces.
Most are in the Morien Group, otherwise known as the Sydney coalfield, a geological formation of coal, shale, sandstone and limestone that stretches for miles in an east-to-west and northern pattern above and below Cape Breton’s eastern coastline.
From Boularderie Island’s tip of Point Aconi, to nearby Alder Point, Florence, Sydney Mines, North Sydney and eastward to New Waterford, Dominion, Glace Bay, Donkin and Port Morien, coal is so plentiful it commonly breaches the surface like the tip of an iceberg. Ribbons of black can also be seen among the layers of rock in the massive Table Head cliffs that separate these coastal communities from the sea... ...
... ... Residents believe they’re not being heard. And frustration mounts when they drive or walk by the vast expanse of fields where little vegetation has returned; they know there’s no fixing the soil when the top healthy layers are peeled back for coal below.
Over at the 20-year-old abandoned Nova Coal strip mine site (owned by the same man who now owns Pioneer Coal), there’s a bright orange brook containing acid mine wash that still spills into St. Andrews Channel and beyond into the nearby sea or the Bras d’Or Lake, depending on the direction of the tide.
If more strip mining occurs, Cape Breton’s limited underground freshwater supply could be lessened, which could harm its farming industry, according to studies by the province’s Environment Department. The fishery is also potentially affected, the reports say.
The $219.9-million Cape Breton tourism industry, as estimated by government for 2004, could also be harmed if the island’s wild scenery is scarred by surface mining, say residents.
"If for no other reason, protect the beauty here," resident Donna Stubbert said as she drove past the farms and mixed forests of Boularderie Island.
"If they keep clearcutting and strip mining here there will be no place for the animals," she said.
Just this week, Brogan sent flyers to about 1,200 homeowners on Boularderie Island and nearby Alders Point, near Florence, asking for comments until this Friday on a plan to extract another 5,500 tonnes of coal from its Merritt Point site in Alders Point.
Located between a cliff edge that drops into the sea and residential homes, the Little Pond mine, abandoned in the 1950s, contains a Caribbean-blue lake where Brogan had extracted coal under an exploration permit.
Mr. Morgan, who is also a lawyer, doesn’t want to have any more environmental damage in a region that is struggling to rebuild its economy, population and health.
"It’s not that you have to prohibit strip mining or reclamation, but with every form of development or economic development there has to be a regulatory scheme" to make sure the best interests of the people are served, he said.
Mr. Clarke said strip mining or underground mining can be done in ways that limit damage to the environment. He said there’s a process for the public to have a say in how or whether any project proceeds.
"What is understood is the frustration and the distrust about previous mining operations and the belief that any new mining would be of a similar nature, and that is the stigma that has affected the type of application here today," the energy minister said.
He points to a surface mine in Florence run by businessman Wally King as an example of how projects can be "done right."
Some have said the minister is too close to strip mine proponents John Chisholm and the Brogan family of Florence, and plans to steam ahead regardless of public opinion.
Mr. Clarke denies there’s been any influence, political donations or even long conversations, although he has met the players. He said economic development sometimes carries an environmental price tag, and government has to explain the process and how public concerns will be considered.
Instead of government spending millions to fix the eyesores of the past, he said, strip mining and reclamation allows private companies to extract the coal, hire workers and clean up the sites, he said.
"Reclamation is a very nice word for the reality of making a mess before you put things back in a better state," Mr. Clarke said. "You don’t build a nice home without putting a basement in first, and that’s not a pretty activity."
He said fresh water and fishing concerns, among others, will be factored into any activity before government gives the green light. "I would not be defending a process about doing development in my own area if I thought it would bring irreparable harm," he said.
|Saturday, January 28, 2006
Cecil Clarke’s political future in doubt
Cape Breton Post
North Sydney - The political future of Cape Breton North MLA Cecil Clarke is in doubt after he revealed Friday he is sick. In an exclusive interview with the Cape Breton Post, Clarke, who did not disclose the nature of his illness, also said he may not reoffer in the next provincial election.
“I’m looking at the probability that I won’t be running in the next election. I don’t want to be in a position a month or two from now or a few weeks (when) I finalize a personal decision and then have it interpreted as a statement about the new leader and premier.”
“Making sure they know this is a personal matter and not a reflection on anything other than my ability to commit to another four years and not the next four to six months leading up to an election.”
Regardless of future decisions, Clarke pledged to see this term through and be there as a voting member of the new leader’s government. “I will do my best to continue to advance the government’s agenda within Cape Breton, but specifically to deal with the issues and opportunities in Cape Breton North.”
Friday, January 27, 2006
Area representatives from municipal, provincial and federal governments met with concerned citizens to formulate a plan of action to stop strip mining Cape Breton. Details will follow as soon as possible.
January 24, 2006
Council members of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality voted 14 to 1 to pass a motion by Wes Stubbert that "the Council request a By-Law to be enacted to protect water supply, agriculture and fishing industries from the ravages of strip coal mining."
Mayor Morgan explained that "the province claims that what they’re doing on Boularderie Island is not strip mining, they claim that what they’re doing is reclamation."
"To reclaim you improve an area, this operation will destroy water supplies, fishing grounds and farm areas. It must be stopped," said Councilor Stubbert.
"The problem is that the Provincial government is not recognizing, for some strange reason, that they have a responsibility. The provincial government has to recognize that this is not the kind of development that we require here in CBRM to move forward" said Councilor Jim MacLeod.
"Everybody realizes that the provincial government seems to be holding the trump card when it comes to strip mining. Instead of being represented provincially in regards to the best interests of the people I think we’re being dictated to" said Councilor Wilson.
“The people of CBRM are against strip mining. If we disagree with the legislation the provincial government has in place that’s our position, to fight that legislation with every ounce of energy we’ve got" said Councilor Saccary.
January 18, 2006
More than 30 pickets gathered outside Cape Breton North MLA Cecil Carke's office Tuesday, protesting strip mining in Cape Breton.
Earl Cantwell of Citizens Against Strip Mining said the fight against strip mining is an ongoing process. "Part of that process is to picket and show our elected officials that we don't want strip mining and this will continue on a regular basis," Cantwell said.
Jauary 13, 2006
Some councllors in the Cape Beton Regional Municipality want to challenge the province's jurisdiction over the operation of strip mines, despite a legal opinion by municipal staff to the contrary.
The members of the planning advisory committee voted 8-2 in a motion Thursday to ask council to pursue the matter with the provincial government.
January 5, 2006
If last night's meeting at the Millville Community Centre is any indication, citizens and politicians alike appear to be united in their opposition to strip mining on Boularderie Island or in any other site designated for strip mining in Cape Breton.
Politicians at the meeting included Liberal MP Mark Eyking, Liberal MLA Gerald Sampson and CBRM Coun. Wes Stubbert.
... Several emotional and impassioned speakers addressed the committee, all united in their opposition to the strip mining issue.
It was pointed out during the meeting that there needs to be a wider awareness throughout the CBRM of the fact that Boularderie is just the tip of the iceberg in strip mining in Cape Breton and is just one of 14 sites designated as potential strip mining areas.
January 4, 2006
After the public meeting area representatives MP Mark Eyking, MLA Gerald Sampson, CBRM Councilor Wes Stubbert, Victoria County Councilor Fraser Patterson, MP Howie MacDonald and federal candidates met with CASM committee members to discuss what can be done. CBRM Mayor John Morgan sent a fax saying he was unable to attend but supported our efforts. Point Aconi area's MLA Cecil Clark was invited to attend but he did not respond.
January 5, 2006
Liberal MLA for Victoria-the- Lakes, Gerald Sampson, is furious that the provincial government is another step closer to allowing strip mining on Boularderie Island. The Department of Environment showed their support for mining once again in a news release sent December 29th.
“Minister Morash says he has listened to the people,” said Sampson.
“He must be talking to people that don't live in the area because I haven't heard from one person that wants strip mining in their back yard.”
Sampson is also critical that the MLA for the area, Cecil Clarke, has not been outspoken on the issue. “It looks like he's hiding, more worried about keeping his job than actually standing up for the people he represents,” added Sampson. Minister Clarke is the MLA for the major part of the area that will be mined.
One of the half-measure conditions that government has put in place is the formation of a community liaison committee. Sampson is skeptical of this process given that the group is to be established by the company actually performing the strip mining.
“These so-called conditions are half-measures, typical of this government,” said Sampson. “It's clear that they made up their minds a long time ago, and their refusal to listen to the people of the area shows where their priorities are.”
On top of the issue of loss of water and the impacts on plants and wildlife in the area, Sampson is concerned about Pioneer Coal destroying valuable wetlands.
December 29, 2005
A proposed surface coal mine for Point Aconi, Cape Breton, that has sparked protests and outrage from area residents got conditional approval from the province this week.
Environment Minister Kerry Morash issued a news release Thursday, saying that his department did listen to public input on the mine, and that’s reflected in the more than two dozen conditions placed on Pioneer Coal.
Before Pioneer starts work, it must establish a community liaison committee. Such committees generally have six to eight members, said Peter Geddes, an environmental assessment officer with the Environment Department.
Other conditions Pioneer must meet include getting someone to review plans for groundwater management, coming up with a detailed plan for cleaning up the land and having a dust control plan.
HALIFAX (CP) - A contentious proposal to open a strip mine in Cape Breton must meet environmental conditions set by the province before it can proceed, Nova Scotia's environment minister said Thursday.
Kerry Morash issued an environmental assessment approval to Pioneer Coal of Antigonish, N.S., outlining terms and conditions that must be met during the next stage of the process.
Pioneer Coal wants to open a strip mine at the old Prince Mine site in Point Aconi, a project that has raised concerns among local residents.
They have said that previous strip mines in the area created too much noise and dust, and polluted run-off damaged local oyster beds and wiped out prime lobster habitat.
But Morash said the conditions placed on the project will mitigate "any adverse effects."
December 21, 2005
DARTMOUTH, N.S. (CP) - Prime Minister Paul Martin refused to reveal Wednesday how Ottawa intends to resolve a federal-provincial squabble over a potentially lucrative Cape Breton coal resource, saying only that a "reasonable solution" should be found after the election.
Both Nova Scotia and Ottawa are staking claim to an estimated 700 million tonnes of undersea coal, which a Swiss-led corporate alliance hopes to start mining within the next three years.
Ottawa says the resource falls under federal jurisdiction because it extends offshore. But Richard Hurlburt, the province's minister of natural resources, has said the coal belongs to Nova Scotia.
"I am sure a reasonable solution can be found between the two levels of government," Martin said. But he made it clear a settlement wasn't expected before the Jan 23 election.
HALIFAX, Dec. 15 /CNW/ - Kaoclay Resources Inc. ("Kaoclay") welcomes today's announcement by the Province of Nova Scotia that the Xstrata Donkin Mine Development Alliance ("Alliance") was awarded the exclusive right to apply for a license to develop the Donkin Coal Resource Block in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. This will give the Alliance the right to pursue the feasibility of mining the coal resource.
Kaoclay has a 20% interest in the Alliance with Xstrata Coal (66%) and the Atlantic Green Energy Development (14%).
Xstrata is anxious to begin the pre-feasibility evaluation program with work expected to begin early in 2006. Kaoclay intends to raise money to meet its funding obligations for the pre-feasibility work of up to $10 million by offering "flow through" shares to the public by way of an initial public offering or private placement of shares, with priority to be given to residents of Nova Scotia.
September 6, 2005
Bras d'Or - The Citizens Against Strip Mining are in full support of
the United Mine Workers of Cape Breton in their endeavors in the opening
of Donkin Mine.
Sydney Mines - There was little support for strip mining in Cape Breton
from among the 200 or so residents who showed up Tuesday night to drill
Energy Minister Cecil Clarke on his government's mine development policy.
July 13, 2005
A company that wants to strip-mine coal from Boularderie Island in Cape Breton is confident it can give strip mining a good name.
Coastal Construction owns land on Boularderie Island near Sydney and is negotiating with the Nova Scotia government for the permits it needs to begin strip mining it.
Friday, July 8, 2005
Point Aconi - Accompanied by concerned area residents, NDP leader Darrell Dexter and four members of his caucus toured sites in the area being considered for strip mining operations, Thursday.
June 27, 2005
The Minister has decided that more information is required in accordance with the Environment Act
June 22, 2005
SYDNEY - Cape Breton Regional Municipality will try to block any strip mining on Boularderie Island this summer.
Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to review the Municipal Government Act in hopes of establishing a bylaw to stop industrial development in areas that could contaminate fresh water, lower property values or cause erosion.
June 20, 2005
BOULARDERIE ISLAND – More than 200 vehicles driven by concerned residents took to the streets Sunday as a battle over possible strip mining operations escalated.
June 20, 2005
FLORENCE (CP) - Several hundred people paraded their vehicles through two Cape Breton towns Sunday to protest a proposed strip mine at the old Prince mine site.
June 16, 2005
Birch Grove - The provincial Department of Natural Resources has decided not to allow Thomas Brogan and Sons Construction Ltd. to conduct open surface mining in the area.
The department denied the company mineral obtaining rights for the Birch Grove resource block, according to a department release, Wednesday.
June 15, 2005
The province has completed its review of three applications for surface coal exploration and mining in the Sydney coalfield, and its review of three proposals to develop the Donkin subsea coal resource.
June 11, 2005
As member of Parliament for Sydney-Victoria, I write to express concern over potential strip mining in my riding. I have spoken to many concerned citizens and have heard their opposition loud and clear. I have seen the effects that strip mining can have on a community.
June 7, 2005
A North Sydney company has received approval to conduct preliminary and conditional exploration for coal on a parcel of land adjacent to the Prince Mine Road (Route 162) in Cape Breton Regional Municipality.
Coastal Construction will receive a special licence to explore within a specified area, subject to landowner consent. This exploration work will allow the company to determine the size of the coal resource and evaluate its economic viability.
April 30, 2005
My March 26 column entitled "The dirty story of where we get our coal," about the human and environmental brutality surrounding the Colombian mine where Nova Scotia Power gets its coal, brought me some illuminating responses regarding some of our own dirty coal stories.
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
BOULARDERIE - Residents of Boularderie Island say a proposed strip mine will taint their water supply and have formed a committee to try to prevent it from starting up.
Feb 21 2005
Point Aconi-area residents are fighting a proposed surface coal mine they fear will deplete their water supply.
Thomas Brogan and Sons Construction Ltd. wants to extract a 50,000-tonne block of coal at Point Aconi, near the former Prince Mine, over a one-year period.
But residents in the area have formed a citizens' group against strip mining, saying the operation would affect the quality of the area's water.
Please note that CASM does not endorse any
particular political party or candidate.
CASM does welcome everyone's help to stop strip mining Cape Breton Island!