Mining firm fined for polluting Manitoba lake
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 14/04/2022 (422 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
OTTAWA — Environment Canada has fined and blacklisted a Chinese-owned mining company for again letting radioactive material seep into a northern Manitoba lake.
“People around the community were very concerned about it, and we asked a lot of questions,” said Wabowden Mayor Frances McIvor.
A Manitoba provincial court judge has ordered CaNickel Mining Ltd. to pay $200,000.
The firm pleaded guilty to releasing radium-226 into Bucko Lake in July 2017, and breaching regulations to test effluent on scheduled dates.
The Vancouver-based company had pleaded guilty after depositing effluent with excessive amounts of radium-226 and nickel in 2014 near its Bucko Lake Mine. The company was fined $80,000.
Eva Pip, a retired University of Winnipeg biologist, said radium-226 accumulates in bones and is a carcinogen. It has a half-life of 1,622 years.
“It lasts a long time in the environment, fish bioaccumulate it, and it affects their growth,” Pip wrote in an email. “There is also the risk when these fish are eaten.”
The mine is just south of Wabowden, 560 kilometres north of Winnipeg.
CaNickel largely halted its operations in July 2012 due to low nickel prices and placed the mine into a care-and-maintenance mode.
“They found a leak and they did bring somebody in to fix it,” McIvor recalled. “Right now, it doesn’t affect our community because nothing’s happening (there).”
She said the area is known as a “dead lake” that people no longer fish from, although trappers were concerned the water and fish could contaminate animals who drink from the lake.
CaNickel did not respond to a request for comment, and the phone number listed in its corporate filings is not in service.
Enforcement officers will use the proceeds from both fines to cover conservation grants. CaNickel has been added to the federal environmental offenders registry.
The company says in filings that it relies on funds from its majority owner, an industrial firm in China called Hebei Wenfeng.