24 May 2013

Lowest Cost Option #nlpoli

Note:  The words glory hole and shaft in this post are terms used in the mining and oil and gas industries.

The provincial government is almost finished “remediating” the environmental contamination left from the old American Smelting and refining Company (ASARCO) mine at Buchans.

According to a news release from Tom Hedderson, tenders are due to go out on May 25 for the final phase.

Read the release and the one thing you will notice is that there’s no description of what the provincial government is actually doing to reduce the environmental risk to residents from the mine tailings and other debris from the old mine.

There’s likely a reason for that.

Back in 2010, SRBP drew attention to the huge contrast between the provincial government’s plan and the one proposed by Abitibi, the supposedly evil and irresponsible company that inherited the liability for the mine from ASARCO. The story was in the GFW Advertiser, if you want to go back and read the original news report.

Abitibi’s consulted recommended that the best way to handle the problem was to take up all the contaminated soil and stuff it into a “glory hole” that would keep the heavy metals under water. .Among other things, that would reduce the risk of leaching.  Abitibi and its consultant also considered stuff the tailings back into one of the mine shafts.

Two groups opposed any of those options.  One was a company interested in one day mining at Buchans again.  The other was the provincial natural resources department.  The mines branch has had a policy since the Year Dot that they opposed any move on any subject any time any where that would prevent any mine from starting or re-starting.  In this case, they adamantly opposed any suggestion that would block access to the glory hole or the abandoned shaft.

All this was before the 2008 expropriation.

Fast forward past the expropriation and guess who won?

The mines branch of the provincial government.

A bit of fresh dirt and a few sods and the whole site will be blessed as “remediated”.

The glory hole and the old shaft are unaffected.

And the environment minister and the local member of the legislature  can claim that the job is done.

What’s not to like?