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Coal mine concerns shellfish growers

BC Shellfish Growers Association, Comox Valley Record, March 11, 2010

Despite assurances from Raven Underground Coal Project officials, the B.C. Shellfish Growers Association (BCSGA) is extremely concerned about the potential environmental impacts of a large scale coal mining operation in the Comox Valley.

In a news release Thursday afternoon, the Comox-based BCSGA feels strongly that comprehensive impact studies need to be carried out before any action is to be taken on the project, including:

• Aquatic studies of the impact on Fanny Bay, as it is a water body that would receive toxic runoff carried by Cowie Creek, including the cost of lost shellfish production in the area;

• The biological impact on the Tsable River and ocean, as sub soils are going to carry runoff from the mine itself through this channel to Baynes Sound, including Tumblewater Creek for pollutant levels;

• Additionally, the SEI (sensitive ecosystem inventory) data base is outdated, being for the most part photo-interpreted and not ground-checked, therefore the SEI areas may be inadequate for a plan of this size.

Furthermore, said the BCSGA, there is obviously some confusion about the required processes to be followed, which raises some serious concerns.

The Addendum released by the Raven Underground Coal Project in February 2010 stipulates that, “… interested parties can continue to conduct a preliminary technical review of the Project, and determine whether or not the Project will trigger the BC Environmental Assessment Act (BCEAA) and / or the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) (i.e., screening level or Comprehensive Study).”

Yet the EAO’s (Environmental Assessment Office) report, under Section 10 clearly states that the project requires an environmental assessment certificate under the BC Environmental Assessment Act.

The BCSGA is also advocating for authorization from the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), as the proposed mine will be built on fish-bearing stream habitat, which is likely to result in the harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat under the Fisheries Act and if so would require a Section 35(2) fisheries authorization from the DFO prior to construction.

— B.C. Shellfish Growers Association