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Letter to the Editor: Coal mine puts fish in danger

December 20, 2016

The following letter to the editor was published in the Edmonton Journal, December 20 2016, in response to John Pundyk’s December 13 opinion article, “Don’t lump steelmaking coal with thermal coal.”


Re. “Steelmaking coal offers growth opportunity; Alberta has product the world needs,” John Pundyk, Dec. 13

While it is true that steelmaking coal has a different purpose from thermal coal, this does not mean that coal projects are blameless for environmental damage.

Pundyk suggests that Teck Resources is a “bright star.” Really? Teck’s coal mines in British Columbia have increased selenium concentrations in the Elk River Basin higher than naturally occurring levels. Selenium is toxic to fish at high concentrations, causing reproductive problems and population collapse.

Benga Mining Ltd.’s proposed Grassy Mountain mine would be a steelmaking coal mine in the Crowsnest Pass. Are they a “bright star?” So far, company environmental assessments have been rejected as inadequate. There is federally protected habitat of westslope cutthroat trout, a prized sport fish, in Gold Creek and Blairmore Creek in the area of the proposed mine. If the Grassy Mountain mine is developed, these populations are at serious risk from selenium toxicity, pollutants and habitat destruction.

When taking into account costly mitigation for species at risk, the social, economic, and environmental costs of mining in Alberta skyrocket. Is metallurgical coal development in this treasured Alberta landscape worth the price?

Andrea Johancsik, Calgary

Conservation Specialist, Alberta Wilderness Association

"Away, away from men and towns, To the wild wood and the downs- To the silent wilderness Where the soul need not repress Its music."
- Percy Bysshe Shelley, "To Jane: An Invitation," 1822
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