Vale Inco wants in on Sandy Pond court case

Ashley Fitzpatrick
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Mining associations also concerned about action

Ken Kavanagh

If the use of Sandy Pond as a dump site for tailings from Vale Inco’s hydromet processing plant in Long Harbour is going to be at the centre of a major court challenge, the company plans to be in the fight.

A group set on saving the pond, the Sandy Pond Alliance, has expanded its aims in the last year. The group launched a federal court challenge in June, seeking the removal of metal mining effluent regulations from the Federal Fisheries Act.

The regulations allow the government to approve the use of lakes and ponds across the country as tailings dump sites.

Friday, lawyers for Vale Inco argued the company should be given intervenor status in the case, with a right to appeal.

They argued while the case is about the regulations, the primary example being used by the Sandy Pond Alliance in their arguments, their “cause celebre,” remains Sandy Pond and its use by Vale Inco.

The lawyers also pointed to the potential impact for Vale Inco should the Sandy Pond Alliance be successful in prompting changes to the federal regulations.

“One possible outcome of (Sandy Pond Alliance’s) application is that this will prevent the company from proceeding with Sandy Pond,” said Vale Inco lawyer Doug Hamilton.

It was stated that constructing alternatives to the use of the pond would require millions of dollars — potentially hundreds of millions — in additional investment by the company. It is one of the reasons it wants the right to appeal.

“It is not something that Vale is simply prepared to throw up its arms and say maybe it will happen, maybe it won’t, we’re prepared to roll the dice,” Hamilton said.

The Mining Association of Canada and the Mining Association of British Columbia were also represented in court Friday, seeking intervenor status.

The lawyer for the associations, James Thistle, said the changes sought by the Sandy Pond Alliance would ultimately be “an evisceration of the regulatory scheme” and have a national impact, directly affecting the associations’ members.

“We wish to represent the broader interests of the industry and that historical element,” Thistle said.

A director for the Sandy Pond Alliance, Ken Kavanagh, sat silently in the back of the courtroom Friday.

During a break from the proceedings, he told The Telegram even if Vale Inco decided to forget about Sandy Pond and spend the money to build storage for its tailings, his group — with between 15 and 20 core members — would not abandon its Federal Court action.

“We’d say great, glad you came to your senses, but we’re proceeding with fighting (the regulations), because it could be another company in another part of Canada doing the same thing six months from now,” he said.

“I can tell you clearly, the focus of our challenge is not just Sandy Pond. It’s the fact that we have what we think is an illegal regulation that allows any number of ponds and lakes in this country to be used as toxic dump sites.”

A decision on whether or not Vale Inco and the mining associations will be accepted as intervenors is expected as early as next Friday.

Organizations: Sandy Pond Alliance, Hamilton said.The Mining Association of Canada, Mining Association of British Columbia Federal Court

Geographic location: Sandy Pond, Long Harbour, Canada

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Recent comments

  • Get a grip
    September 16, 2010 - 22:03

    Cmon people, how many lakes and ponds are in Newfoundland and Labrador? They have to put this shit somewhere. If they don't use Sandy Pond, they will have to construct something that will take up much more realestate than Sandy Pond currently does; you would end up wtih more of an environmental impact. Besides, they are moving all the fish out of the pond to another pond. Go fishing in that pond and leave Vale alone.... I suppose the other options are to leave the nickel in the ground or send it to Ontario or Manitoba to be processed. It's not like Newfoundland needs 450 good new jobs.....

    • Red
      September 30, 2010 - 13:27

      Hey get a grip, you are the one who needs to follow your namesake. It isn't one pond they are killing, it is 10-12. They have already killed 2 in order to build their pollution spewing machine. Allowing companies to do this undermines the environment and sets a precedence for other companies looking to dump their crap. How about we dump it in your community there get a grip, mine already has a pile of toxic radiation emitting slag in the middle of the harbour, and I don't need another pile of toxins containing who knows what, up on the hill waiting for the opportunity to come pouring down over the hills and into the bay. I suggest you so some reading on Vale Inco and their practices and educate yourself on the ways this company operates around the world. That is if you can read. Gotta git me job by, and I don't care if I gotta run down me own mudder to get en. Thats your mentality.

  • Jerry
    September 13, 2010 - 15:35

    It is the responsibility of the company to come up with alternatives. Of course they want in on this lawsuit, it could potentially cost them hundreds of millions of dollars to do the project correctly. It is cheaper to pay for legal fees than to build a proper waste receptacle. Vale aren't an environmental or a people company. I know, I worked for them.

  • Red
    September 13, 2010 - 09:47

    Hey Nasty Nate there are already several other options which Vale have explored, but surprise they are all more expensive than using a free pond. It isn't up to the public to come up with another solution, it is up to the company since they are the ones destroying the pond. Funny how they'll spend millions on legal fees to fight this, but won't put any money into alternate solutions. Just goes to show you how much money Sandy Pond is saving them. I hope not one drop of poison ever goes into that pond.

  • Eugene from Town
    September 13, 2010 - 05:50

    I applaud Mr. Kavanagh's efforts. His is a thankless job that will enjoy only the slings and arrows of corporate and political hacks who will attempt to paint him as anti-progress. Having caught trout in the clean rivers and ponds around Lamanche, PB where my mother was raised, I hope that my child will be able to enjoy these contacts with nature through the efforts of Mr. Kavanagh and the Sandy Pond Alliance. Shame on Minsiter Dunderdale and Premier Williams, we need to reverse the N&L trend that allows industry to pollute with impunity.

  • nasty nate
    September 12, 2010 - 11:55

    Ya Danny promised you all jobs so suck it up. Either put food on the table or drink the water. What do you want? Sure it sucks to kill off any body of water all in the nae of progress, but how's about you putting a solution on the table for a change rather then crying about it.

  • rene ebacher
    September 11, 2010 - 15:15

    I totally agree with the Sandy Pond Alliance and Mr. Kavanagh. We have to stop mining companies polluting our waterways and lakes. This is criminal. Water like air is essential to our survival. Water shortages are happening all over the world and gone get worse as climate change is now part of the picture. It's the reality and we have to face it. Wasting that precious resource to save money is shameful.

    • Natalie Guttormsson
      September 13, 2010 - 22:43

      The choice is not whether to drink clean water or put food on the table. This project, as well as the Prosperity Project in BC do not need to destroy lakes so blatantly. There are other options, more expensive option for the mining companies, that save the water and still construct the mines. Taseko and Vale are just trying to cut down their costs without a thought to those who actually live on these water bodies and rely upon them for survival. These companies make enough money as it is, they should suck it up and build their own waste dump sites rather than destroy our other natural resources.