Alberta coal mine spill alarms Dene downstream

Two Dene chiefs in the Northwest Territories are seeking accountability in the Obed Mountain coal mine spill near Hinton, Alberta.
“Who is responsible?” asks Dene National Chief Bill Erasmus. "What regulations are suppose to kick in?”

Sherritt International's Obed Mountain coal mine spilled about 1 billion litres of contaminated water into the Athabasca River on October 31, but the Dene Nation says it only heard about the spill three weeks later from the media.

Dene National Chief Bill Erasmus says they should have been told about the massive spill.

“Who is responsible?” Erasmus asks. “Is it the federal government? Is it the provincial government? Is it the territorial government? Is it the First Nations governments? What regulations are suppose to kick in?”

Erasmus says the wastewater moving North is laced with metals and carcinogenic materials.

The Alberta government says its been testing for heavy metals and a wide range of compounds. It's hoping to share the results from the affected areas in the Athabasca River early next week.

Fort Providence Chief also concerned

The Chief of the DehGahGotieDene Band in Fort Providence, N.W.T. also says industry and government needs to be accountable for the spill.

Chief JoachimBonnetrouge says he's concerned the tailings spill is travelling downstream from the site in Hinton, Alberta.

“Some of the procedures and the policies right now don't even take our own concerns into consideration.” Bonnetrouge says. “In the end I think some of these things may need to go to court sooner or later.”

Bonnetrouge says there needs to be a water monitoring station at Fort Providence. He says he's worried about contaminants affecting the fish his community relies on.

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