Article courtesy of Matt Vis | June 8, 2015 | tbnewswatch.com | Shared as educational material
THUNDER BAY – The spread of contaminated water from a spill at the Lac des Iles mine could eventually reach Lake Superior.
That’s the concern from Gull Bay First Nation Chief Wilfred King, who on Monday said he has heard reports the situation at the mine located 100 kilometres south of his community is not under control.
“My understanding is they haven’t contained it as of yet and the water is still spilling into waterways, beaver ponds and some lakes have been contaminated,” he said.
“The lake in question where it breached is already seven kilometres and that’s within a short period of time. The mitigation measures they’ve put in place are apparently not working. This is a major spill.”
Last week North American Palladium, which owns the mine, began what they called a “controlled release” of the wastewater to try to restore water balance in their tailing ponds.
The mine first began experiencing issues late last month when repairs needed to be made to the interior liner of a reclaim pond.
However, leaks began springing up and, combined with heavy rain, resulted in excess water entering the ponds and creating overflow.
King said he has heard the effects from the spill could spread throughout the entire watershed.
“I’ve been told they’re going to do some water testing as far away as Lake Superior so even Thunder Bay should be concerned about this spill,” he said.
King last week sent letters to Premier Kathleen Wynne as well as three provincial ministries, including the Ministry of the Environment.
He wants the government to engage in consultation with his First Nation about what is going on at the mine.
“The Ministry of the Environment is the agency ultimately responsible for contacting the First Nation and developing the consultation protocols and how we’re going to address the situation,” King said, adding that has not yet happened.
Ministry of the Environment spokesperson Kate Jordan responded via email to Dougall Media and said a work order has been issued against the mine.
“The order requires the mine to take all measures necessary to prevent the failure of the tailings dames, minimize adverse impacts as a result of the discharge of tailings effluent and report back to the ministry on work at the site on a daily basis,” Jordan said in the email.
She said ministry officials will meet with the First Nation, which will likely happen this week.