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VIHA asked to address risk to drinking water from proposed Raven Coal Mine

Media Release, CoalWatch Comox Valley & Environmental Law Centre, University of Victoria, Feb 18 2013

The UVic Environmental Law Clinic today asked Vancouver Island Health Authority’s Drinking Water Officer to issue a Hazard Prevention Order to address the risk to drinking water posed by the proposed Raven Underground Coal Mine Project.

The request was made pursuant to the Drinking Water Protection Act on behalf of CoalWatch Comox Valley Society. The request is supported by two water suppliers below the proposed coal mine – Fanny Bay Waterworks and Ships Point Improvement District.

The Clinic submitted an expert opinion from a hydro-geologist and engineer that provides evidence that:

  • the mine is likely to release heavy metals such as arsenic into streams either used directly for drinking water or connected to aquifers used as drinking water sources; and
  • under the current environmental assessment process, the planned assessment and monitoring program for the mine is “very weak” and is likely to not mitigate the risk adequately.

The Clinic submission provides information about the risks of Acid Mine Drainage, which destroyed the fishery in the Tsolum River, once created one of North America’s largest point sources of metal pollution at Brittania Creek, and caused the 1993 BC State of the Environment Report to state that Acid Mine Drainage was “one of the main sources of chemical threats to groundwater quality” in BC.

The submission cites numerous examples of where mine-contaminated water has affected human health. It also notes that Comox Valley Regional District, Comox Town Council and Courtenay City Council have recently passed motions to oppose the further processing of the Raven project application by Government, until comprehensive aquifer mapping of the aquifers that could be affected by the proposed Raven Coal Mine Project is done.

“Speaking as a private water well owner in Fanny Bay, I also support this request for a Hazard Prevention Order,” said CoalWatch president John Snyder. “The protection of our precious water supply should be paramount, and the fact that the UVic Environmental Law Clinic has made this extraordinary request is significant indeed.”

The ELC request for a Hazard Prevention Order can be viewed on the CoalWatch Comox Valley website: www.coalwatch.ca or the ELC website: www.elc.uvic.ca

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Contact information: John Snyder, CoalWatch Comox Valley – 250-335-2246

Calvin Sandborn, Legal Director, UVic Environmental Law Clinic – 250-472-5248
 

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