Vale Newfoundland and Labrador has been accused of illegally releasing “acutely lethal effluent” into the waters near the Voisey’s Bay mine site. The nickel-copper-cobalt mine first passed federal environmental review in 1997 and Vale recently signed a deal with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador for an expansion of the mine. — File photo courtesy of Vale
The federal government has refused to comment on the charges being pressed against Vale Newfoundland and Labrador for alleged illegal release of liquid waste into Anaktalak Bay, Labrador.
Three charges have been laid against Vale relating to alleged breaches of the federal Fisheries Act, over the course of almost a month in October 2011.
The company is accused of illegally depositing waste into a waterway frequented by fish, failing to take reasonable preventative measures and failing to submit relevant environmental monitoring reports within a set time frame.
At 9 p.m. Wednesday night, Environment Canada issued a response by email to questions submitted by The Telegram earlier that day: “Thank you for contacting Environment Canada. However, as this case is currently before the courts, it would be inappropriate to comment.”
The paper posed questions about the Vale case to communications staff at the provincial and federal level throughout the day Wednesday, after it was called in provincial court in St. John’s and set over to August.
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Questions — including whether or not the provincial government was aware of the allegations against Vale — bounced between the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) representatives, a provincial spokesperson for DFO, the Environment Canada communications office in Ottawa and provincial communications staff from Service NL to Environment and Conservation.
There has been no response to any questions about environmental monitoring at Voisey’s Bay, interaction between regulators at the provincial and federal level, or the alleged environmental crime that has prompted the charges against Vale, other than to say the case is before the courts.
A spokesman for the company has also declined comment.
A Nunatsiavut government spokesman was reached by email Thursday, but has yet to respond to a request for comment.