From Elk Valley to Tumblr Ridge, the coal financial growth has introduced cash and jobs to rural communities all through the province for greater than a century, however because the trade continues to generate document income, wastewater has been added to aquatic ecosystems and consuming water sources. However it’s wreaking havoc. Coal mining is polluting our water. Canada not too long ago issued draft guidelines to restrict air pollution from coal mines, however as an alternative of defending fish and water, proposed Coal Mining Effluent Laws weaken the present safety beneath fisheries act and permit long-term contamination of the downstream surroundings.
growing selenium air pollution
Since 1998, the provincial authorities and the coal trade have been conscious of selenium contamination occurring downstream of open pit mines within the Elk Valley. As of 2012, Setting and Local weather Change Canada (ECCC) had launched an investigation into Tech Coal Restricted (TECH) for breaches. fisheries act, This led to Tek’s conviction in 2021, which included a historic $60 million advantageous, Canada’s largest ever advantageous issued beneath. fisheries act,
Whereas all that is unfolding, the federal authorities is growing new laws that can regulate coal mine effluents in an effort to avoid wasting fish and water. not too long ago proposed Coal Mining Effluent Laws Amongst different necessities are to control the discharge of selenium, nitrate and whole suspended solids into the surroundings. However as an alternative of defending fish and water, these draft guidelines would authorize the discharge of dangerous substances into the surroundings, that are at present permitted beneath it. fisheries act,
The ECCC concluded that selenium concentrations on the backside of the Fording River and Greenhills coal mines have been dangerous to fish. These similar concentrations of selenium are proposed by world-leading consultants and the ECCC to be dangerous to fish Coal Mining Effluent Lawssuccessfully permitting it which can result in 2021 fisheries act breach.
“The estimated most annual lack of Westslope jackfruit trout embryos and fry … as a consequence of selenium toxicity exceeds a million eight million people per 12 months”
– Dr. Dennis Lemley on Fish within the Elk Valley
The draft guidelines set the proposed selenium focus for Elk Valley at 50 ug/L for 5 years after its implementation and 40 ug/L for 15 years after its implementation. These concentrations come straight from Elk Valley Water High quality Plan, primarily developed by Tech, and permits selenium concentrations in consuming water sources to be nicely above the boundaries set by British Columbia’s Consuming Water High quality Pointers. As well as, consultants concluded throughout the ECCC investigation that: Elk Valley Water High quality Plan Particular person fish weren’t protected and have been constructed on false disputes
“In my view that is basically flawed”
– Dr. Vince’s Palace on the Elk Valley Water High quality Plan
The conclusions drawn from the ECCC’s investigation converse for themselves:
- Selenium and calcite have been being deposited within the Higher Fording River, these deposits have been dangerous to fish and fish habitat and dangerous to fish and people; And
- Acceptable measures weren’t taken to go well with the general public security and safety of fish, and fish habitat.
“We can’t function our Elk Valley coal mines in compliance with the Fisheries Act and its present related rules.”
– Tech Assets Restricted Annual Data Type 2020
The present water air pollution disaster within the Elk Valley might have been enormously improved if correct mine design and mitigation measures have been taken at any stage over the previous 20 years. Specialists within the ECCC investigation discovered that the first supply of selenium within the Elk Valley was exterior waste rock dumps. Engineering options resembling geosynthetic covers is also constructed, but it surely was less expensive to pay a advantageous for violating it. fisheries act,
For individuals who are excessive customers of fish within the area, skilled opinion within the ECCC investigation discovered that consumption recommendation from the confluence of the Higher Fording River, the Decrease Fording River for 2001, the Elk River for 2012, ought to have began in 1995. Fording River to Sparwood, and for 2021 Elk River from Sparwood to Elko.
With 4 new coal mines proposed within the Elk Valley, modifications are wanted inside the proposed Coal Mining Effluent Laws Which guarantee the protection of fish and clear water. Now the time has come that the central authorities ought to stand for clear water.
“At Tek Coal, water therapy has been anticipated for lots of of years.”
This text solely addresses Half II of the proposed Coal Mining Circulation Laws, which set guidelines for 5 present coal mines within the Elk Valley (Fording River Operations, Greenhills Operations, Elkview Operations, Line Creek Operations and Coal Mountain Operations). The proposed new mines for the Elk Valley, besides the Citadel Mountain Mine (Fording River Growth Venture), will likely be regulated beneath Half I of the proposed Coal Mining Effluent Regulation. For extra data, we advocate studying the draft guidelines.
Bar Plot Reference:
- British Columbia Authorised Water High quality Pointers: Aquatic Life, Wildlife and Agriculture
- Supply Consuming Water High quality Pointers
- Proposed Coal Mining Effluent Laws: Overview
- Canada-BC Water High quality Monitoring Program: The Elk River Under Sparwood
- Report: 2020 Annual Report: Elk Valley Regional and Web site-Particular Groundwater Monitoring Program