New Brunswickers, First Nation’s representatives and aquatic scientists met Wednesday to discuss the possibility of the Sisson Mine dumping toxic waste into the Nashwaak River.
The Conservation Council of New Brunswick want to keep fish-bearing brooks off the list for the proposed Sisson Mine’s waste dam, after a draft permit was released by the federal government.
“The major concern is that we’re giving our permission for the mining company to discharge effluent into what’s otherwise a pristine waterway,” said Peter Toner, the Nashwaak Watershed Association president.
The companies behind the proposed mine are in the final stages of applying for permission to dump mining waste into portions of Bird Brook and a tributary of the west branch of Napadogan Brook.
Both are fish-bearing waters in the Nashwaak watershed that have supported fisheries for Atlantic salmon and brook trout for many generations of First Nations communities.
“The environmental risks of a dam that’s twice as high as the Mactaquac and eight times as long breaking is way too great to be passed over with ease by the federal government,” said Lois Corbett, the Conservation Council New Brunswick’s executive director.
The group wants Environment Canada to reconsider the proposed amendments to the effluent regulations of the Fisheries Act.
“The longer-term risks are significant. It’s not always as immediate as a failure, such a tailing pump, but those longer-term things such as the seepage from a tailings pond into tributaries,” said Dr. Meghann Bruce, an aquatic scientist from the University of New Brunswick.
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There is concern that the Sisson Partnership did not conduct a rigorous scientific assessment of alternative technologies for managing the mine’s tailings and waste.
“A lot of the more modern mining techniques are above ground and dry storage, and that has never been adequately assessed either through the provincial environmental impact assessment nor federally,” said Corbett.
The public has until March 18 to submit their final comments or concerns to Environment and Climate Change Canada before the federal government makes its final decision.