Costs, ponds and profits

Staff ~ The Telegram
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In his July 3 Outdoors column "The cost of doing business," Derek Brace echoed the feelings of many in decrying the past destruction of Trout Pond and the proposed destruction of Sandy Pond by the mining industry. But the loss of these lakes, with their unique ecosystems and trout populations, should not be viewed as an inevitable cost of doing business, as industry and some politicians would have us believe.

The destruction of such lakes is a coldly calculated way of reducing costs to the industry at the expense of the natural heritage of our province. These lakes are irreplaceable. If underwater storage of wastes is deemed to be the only safe disposal method, then suitable impermeable structures should be constructed for that purpose, with guarantees that they will be monitored and kept secure in perpetuity.

Letters to the editor -

In his July 3 Outdoors column "The cost of doing business," Derek Brace echoed the feelings of many in decrying the past destruction of Trout Pond and the proposed destruction of Sandy Pond by the mining industry. But the loss of these lakes, with their unique ecosystems and trout populations, should not be viewed as an inevitable cost of doing business, as industry and some politicians would have us believe.

The destruction of such lakes is a coldly calculated way of reducing costs to the industry at the expense of the natural heritage of our province. These lakes are irreplaceable. If underwater storage of wastes is deemed to be the only safe disposal method, then suitable impermeable structures should be constructed for that purpose, with guarantees that they will be monitored and kept secure in perpetuity.

In opposing the destruction of lakes in Newfoundland and Labrador as well as elsewhere in Canada, the Sandy Pond Alliance is not engaging in wishful thinking.

Two recent events show that thoughtful and knowledgeable Canadians are turning away from a destructive policy that should never have been allowed to gain a foothold.

Last week a federal review panel rejected a plan by Taseko Mines to turn a unique British Columbia lake into a waste dump. The panel found that the project would cause "significant adverse environmental effects " and that their proposal to create an artificial fish habitat was unlikely to work. More recently, Marathon PGM, a mining company with a similar proposal to destroy a lake in Ontario, decided under strong public opposition to withdraw its proposal and use an alternative, less-destructive tailings confinement system.

If Canadian companies developing mining projects in other provinces can be made to respect the integrity of Canada's freshwater ecosystems, we should demand the same of Vale in its operations here.

The destruction of Sandy Pond or any lake should not be an option. The technology exists to put in a proper waste containment system.

To do it right may cost more and require more work, but we should accept no less.

John D. Jacobs

St. John's

Organizations: Sandy Pond Alliance, Taseko Mines, Marathon PGM

Geographic location: Sandy Pond, Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador British Columbia Ontario St. John's

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Recent comments

  • Eugene
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    Here, here! Regulation of private business is anathema to Williams and his government. As much was said by Mr. Williams when asked, while in opposition, if he was willing to regulate the auto insurance industry. The premiere indicated that he was loathe in interfere with private industry and removed provincial taxes on insurance as a public fix. This government has entertained all sorts of environmentally questionable projects including the harvest of peat moss that underlies natural water filtration systems on the avalon; to them one more polluted pond is just that: no big deal. When it comes to mining, Canadian companies and Canadian governments have dismal ecological records, domestically and abroad; little old Newfoundland and its business as usual government don't seem to be bucking the established trend in any way.

  • Edward
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    The major difference between British Columbia and Ontario on the one hand and Newfoundland and Labrador on the other, is that we will happily sell our souls for a few jobs and short term gain. ERCO ended up in Long Harbour when no other jurisdiction in North America would touch it. Long after Vale has departed for greener pastures, our great, great, grandchildren will be living with this. And when the tailings pond is breached, or begins to leak, or some unexpected chemical reaction occurs, as it certainly will in the decades to come, don't expect Vale Inco, or whatever they will call themselves 5 or 6 corporate mergers hence, to be picking up the tab. I agree with William Daniels, let Sandy Pond be renamed Johnson Pond or Johnsons' Folly in honour of her legacy.

  • William Daniels
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    Minister Johnson sold Newfoundlanders out. Her decisions as Environment Minister will go down in history as the worst. The ramifications of some of these decisions will effect generations to come. The Williams government tinkered with Roger's deal and have made it worse. Johnson is letting Vale take the cheap way out. I think the name of the pond should be changed to Johnson Pond so we can fondly remember her when people ask how the cess pool got there. Tar and feathers comes to mind when I think of this minister. She sold us out to big business.

  • Les from Town
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    Environment Minister Charlene Johnson should be relabelled Industrial Expedition Minister Charlene Johnston because she sure doesn't work FOR the environment. This pond should be renamed BP Pond before being handed over to Vale, because that's exactly how they will behave with it. Have we learned nothing in the 21st century especially in the light of the fact we all know how little industry cares about nothing but money. It's government's job to ensure the interests of the people come first and not private industry. Vale, you need to build your own containment pond and put money up front for perpetual monitoring to ensure the safety of our lands, animals and people down the food chain right to Placentia Bay. Deplorable. This needs to stop.

  • Eli
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    Mr. Jacobs...Environment Minister Charlene Johnson described the destruction of Sandy Pond as a good balance between sustainable environmental protection and economic development. She should have been put out to pasture right there and then.

  • Brad
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    The only reason this company chose Sandy Pond is not because of its ability to hold water, it is the fact that they can build this massive polluter in a pristine valley, where noone can see it from public roads. Out of sight out of mind. Ms. Johnson is going to kill this province one area at a time. After all of the money currently being blown on cleanups of past mining companies, have we learned nothing? Charlene is just a puppet, an airhead that Danny and industry can dangle on strings. Someone as young and naive as her shouldn't be left with such a huge responsibility. She has certainly shown her inexperience and immaturity.