In the wake of the devastating British Columbia tailings pond spill, the NDP is calling on the Saskatchewan government to reverse its decision to approve the Fortune Minerals plan which would see toxic waste stored right above a vital aquifer.
The proposed Fortune Minerals processing plant near Langham would generate 158,000 tonnes of toxic waste every year, including cyanide and arsenic. This waste would be stored permanently in pits at the site, right on top of the Dalmeny aquifer, the area's main source of drinking water.
"I have heard from so many local residents and people throughout the province who simply cannot understand why this government would approve a plan that would have toxic waste stored in pits right above a crucial ground source of drinking water," said Cathy Sproule, NDP environment critic. "Economic development and industrial projects are good things, and we fully support them, but it's not acceptable for this government to throw common sense and science out the window."
Sproule pointed to a scientific study from three decades ago that showed the underground layer of clay between the ground surface and the Dalmeny aquifer is full of vertical and horizontal cracks. The researchers noted that, "an important implication of this study is that contaminants, which may enter the till at ground surface from waste-disposal activities ... may not be effectively isolated from the aquifer by zones of unweathered clayey till. The fractures in the weathered and unweathered till may provide significant pathways for downward contaminant migration.”
"We've seen the shocking devastation caused by the tailings pond spill in B.C. this week," said Sproule. "It's a sobering reminder of how important it is to be smart and diligent about environmental protection. And it should be a wake-up call for this government, because putting a vital supply of drinking water at significant risk of contamination makes absolutely no sense."