The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Toxic Yellowknife mine cleanup moves ahead with community changes

  • Print

YELLOWKNIFE - Plans to clean up what may be Canada's worst toxic site are moving ahead with changes suggested by those who live beside Yellowknife's Giant Mine.

Last summer, a northern environmental regulator told the federal cabinet that it wasn't entirely happy with Ottawa's plans for the mine, which holds millions of tonnes of arsenic-contaminated waste on the shores of Great Slave Lake.

The Mackenzie Valley Review Board agreed freezing the underground arsenic in place is probably the best solution.

But it sided with aboriginal groups, territorial politicians and the City of Yellowknife, who have strong reservations with the federal plan.

The board eventually recommended an independent watchdog be created to supervise the dangerous cleanup. And it wanted ongoing research funded to find a permanent way to deal with the former gold mine's deadly legacy, as well as the health and environmental effects of the cleanup.

It also disagreed with federal plans to maintain the frozen arsenic in perpetuity, pointing out forever is a long time.

"The public (does) not have any confidence the (government) can be trusted to fund and actively manage the site forever as proposed," said the board's report last June.

The board recommended a 100-year limit on the time the arsenic can be kept frozen underground. It also said the plan must be reviewed every 20 years.

All those suggestions have survived a consultation process with federal bureaucrats, and have made it into the final draft of the board's recommendations, submitted this week.

"The board carefully weighed what it got from those parties," said board manager Alan Ehrlich. "We believe that their underlying interests remain in the recommended measures."

The recommendations now go before Northern Development Minister Bernard Valcourt.

That document is the result of consultations that began in 2008. It proposes the freezing of 237,000 tonnes of highly toxic and soluble arsenic underground, with 65 kilometres of refrigerating pipes running through cavernous subterranean storage chambers.

There are also 13.5 million tonnes of arsenic-contaminated tailings on the land above. The 95-hectare site contains many structures that are further contaminated with arsenic and other poisons, from asbestos to dioxins.

Some of the structures are in such bad shape the government was forced to apply for emergency permits to take them down last summer before toxins were released.

The latest cost estimate for the entire project is $903 million — all which will be paid by taxpayers.

— By Bob Weber in Edmonton

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

RMTC preview of Good People

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Young goslings are growing up quickly near Cresent Lake in Portage La Prairie, Manitoba- See Bryksa 30 Day goose project- Day 11- May 15, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A pelican comes in for a landing Wednesday afternoon on the Red River at Lockport, Manitoba - Standup photo- June 27, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What are you most looking forward to this Easter weekend?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google