April 12, 2012 (Ottawa) Canadians overwhelmingly oppose a legal loophole that permits metal mining companies to dump mine waste into natural lakes, according to a Léger Marketing national opinion poll. The poll, commissioned by conservation group Nature Canada, shows that 96% of Canadians either somewhat or strongly disagree with metal mining companies using natural water bodies to dispose of toxic mine tailings.
The same poll showed that nearly all Canadians are more concerned with protecting natural bodies of water than they are the potential cancellation of a mining project. Fully 98% of respondents stated they would still be opposed to dumping waste in a lake even if prohibiting the practice meant a mine project – and the associated jobs – might be cancelled.
“Canadians love their lakes,” said Alex MacDonald, Nature Canada’s manager of protected areas. “They have always held a special place in the Canadian identity, which is why Canadians inherently recognize that purposely destroying a living lake with toxic waste just isn’t responsible.”
Metal mining companies can propose to convert natural water bodies into ‘impoundment areas’ for toxic mine tailings using the federal Metal Mining Effluent Regulations, created under the Fisheries Act. Those regulations contain a loophole called Schedule 2 which outlines water bodies across Canada that may be legally contaminated with tonnes of mining waste – a practice that would otherwise contravene the Fisheries Act. Mining tailings are toxic and may contain contaminants such as arsenic and cyanide.
The poll was conducted just a week after the federal government released a budget that promises to expand the loophole in the Fisheries Act. Now, diamond and coal mining companies will apparently join metal mining companies in being allowed to dump toxic waste into Canada’s living lakes, rivers and other water bodies.
“Wasting natural water bodies appears to be turning into a normal part of business for mining companies,” said MacDonald. “Our concern with this legal loophole is that it overlooks the true ecological value and function of Canada’s water bodies.”
Nature Canada is running the Stop Wasting Our Lakes campaign to engage Canadians on this issue and encourage government to close the “Schedule 2 loophole”.
“Government is moving in the wrong direction with the proposed expansion of this regulatory loophole,” said MacDonald. “Canadians have clearly indicated that they value their lakes, rivers and wetlands over development at any cost, and government needs to listen.”
“Canadians clearly want industry and government to work together to find better solutions,” said MacDonald, referring to the fact that 67% of poll respondents said alternatives to lake disposal should be explored or developed.
Léger Marketing polled 1, 507 Canadians between April 2 and April 4. For more information about the poll results, Schedule 2, or the Stop Wasting Our Lakes Campaign contact:
Protected Areas Manager, Nature Canada
Communications Director, Nature Canada
613-562-3447 ext. 248
About Nature Canada
Nature Canada is a member-based non-profit nature conservation organization dedicated to conserving and protecting wildlife and habitats in Canada by engaging people and advocating on behalf of nature. With strategies based on sound science and passion for nature, Nature Canada effects change on issues of national significance.
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