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May 18, 2006
Concerns of strip mining opponents are being addressed, says premier

Premier Rodney MacDonald said in an interview with the Cape Breton Post, Wednesday, that he has taken a number of steps to address concerns raised by people who don't want strip mining on Cape Breton.

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.

"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." The Boularderie Island remediation parcel near Prince Mine has been reduced by 42 percent.

Provincial government ministers and the premier have gone over the site on a number of occassions, he said.

"We've also moved forward with a commitment to take a look at former sites where the remediation has not been up to where it should be and to do the appropriate research with a task force (appointed) to make sure there are improvements (done) in upcoming years."

A three year moratorium on other sites is now in place "to show this site can be done right."

The premier said most people agree the site needs to be cleaned up and made safer.

"We will find that balance between cleaning it up and remediation, and providing jobs which is good for the economy", he said, adding that it's easy for the oppostion to say they are going to ban open surface mining - rock and gypsum quarries and mining operations - but it would send ripples across the province.

Stellarton is a good example where remediation worked, he noted.

"Some excellent work was done there, the community is happy, they benefitied and employment was provided; it as an environmental success story."

Most of the former mine remediation projects have been done well, but thre are some disappointments, he said.

"I've seen some of those sites and it upset me to the point where we have now launced this new review of the historic sites to see what we can do to enhance them with vegetation" and make the land useable.

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