Vancouver Islanders call for better protection from bad mining

Campaigners ‘not against mining, but mining at any cost’

The Mount Polley tailings dam broke in 2014, sending 24 million cubic meters of toxic mine tailings into the watershed. File photo

Vancouver Island environmentalist Leona Adams is calling for mining law reform in B.C.

The goals of the campaign are to make mining companies or shareholders pay for pollution, respect decisions by local governments and protect watersheds.

“It grew out of a shared concern of weak mining laws (and) a lack of enforcement and oversight, along with increased demand for minerals mined in B.C.,” said Adams, president of the Campbell River Environmental Committee (CREC).

She said companies should pay a security upfront in case of an environmental disaster, which could be used for clean-up in cases where companies declare bankruptcy. The policy changes would also include stiffer penalties for polluters.

READ MORE: Disciplinary hearings announced regarding Mount Polley Mine breach

READ MORE: Mount Polley design, steep additions led to failure

“It shouldn’t come down to the taxpayer all the time,” she said.

A network of environmental groups is campaigning for the reforms, which are detailed on the website reformbcmining.ca. The coalition held a conference on May 15 in Victoria, and Adams attended on behalf of CREC.

Adams stressed that watersheds should be better protected from effluence related to mining. She said that First Nations and municipal governments should also have more say about mining activities.

“The local government and the citizens know what’s best for them,” she said. “Of course they don’t want to see a mine above their drinking water, for example, or a sensitive fisheries river.

Adams said the campaigners don’t want to stop the mining industry in B.C., but that mining needs to done more sustainably.

“The network is not against mining, but mining at any cost,” she said.


@davidgordonkoch
david.koch@campbellrivermirror.com

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