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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

No public hearings are scheduled. Only one Alberta organization, the Alberta Wilderness Association, is independent enough that it continues championing public land and the people's right of access to it. So people must speak individually, as they have so many times before, directly to the premier, the minister of Sustainable Resource Development and their MLA, and remind them of what public land means to all of us, that none of it is surplus to our needs, that we do not want it sold.
- Bob Scammell, 2003
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