For Immediate Release
Incomplete Reporting Still Reveals Mining Companies' Toxic Threat
Environmental groups worry some of Canada's Mines are Dragging Feet on Federal Order to Report Toxic Mining Waste
TORONTO - New data
released Friday in response to a lawsuit won last year by
on behalf of Great Lakes United and MiningWatch Canada, is beginning to
light on the toxic legacy of Canada's mining and tar sands industries.
despite a lawsuit and a government order to report
pollutant releases, some facilities have failed to comply.
is finally starting to get a picture of the extent of the
toxic burden created by Canada's mines, but even now - after an order by
federal court judge and the Minister of the Environment - some mines
to report," said Justin Duncan, staff lawyer for Ecojustice, and who
Great Lakes United and MiningWatch Canada in the case.
we know that at least 500,000 tonnes of toxic substances
are being added to tailings ponds and waste rock piles across the
year. But until the rest of the facilities report, we won't have a full
released late last week through Canada's National Pollutant
Release Inventory (NPRI) reveals for the first time some of the
released by mines to their tailings and waste rock dumps between 2006
It showed approximately two million tonnes of pollutants placed
tailing and waste rock piles between 2006 and
several metal mines and coal mines not reporting as
Environment Canada expected them to, available data clearly indicates
waste often contains massive amounts of heavy metals such as lead,
other pollutants like sulphuric acid, that pose major threats to the
and human health.
has a right to know what toxics are being stored near
their communities and watersheds, especially as evidence continues to
tailings dumps leak," said John Jackson of Great Lakes United.
these wastes build up year after year, there are mines that
still haven't provided a picture of the risk they pose. Environment
fully enforce the law against those mines that fail to
to the data from Environment Canada, 58 of Canada's 86 metal mines
the NPRI, as did 1 of 22 coal mines. While all are not required to
Environment Canada stated that some expected mines did not provide data.
department said it will follow up with non-reporting and probable
under-reporting facilities, and refer them to the enforcement branch as
total, reporting facilities indicated they had disposed of more than
tonnes of toxic waste in tailings ponds and waste rock piles in 2009.
includes toxic substances like lead and sulphuric acid and
substances, such as nickel, arsenic and chromium.
numbers further highlight the need for better regulation and long-term
management practices in the mining industry, including treatment of mine
during the decades after mine closure.
has to do a better job locating and constructing waste facilities,
them and guaranteeing that they have the financial assurances in place
cleanup," said Ramsey Hart of MiningWatch. "But first, we need the
ensure that all facilities fully report their pollutant releases as the
ordered them to do."
Federal Court Justice James Russell ruled that the federal
government must end its illegal exclusion of mine tailings and waste
pollution from the NPRI - Canada's
legislated, publicly-accessible inventory of pollutant releases to air,
Ecojustice, formerly Sierra Legal Defence Fund goes to court to defend the right of Canadians to a healthy environment. As Canada's largest and foremost non-profit environmental law organization our trusted voice in the courts enables citizens to expose lawbreakers and hold governments accountable, all while setting powerful precedents for clean water, natural spaces, healthy communities and for global warming solutions.