The Dene Nation is organizing a public forum in Yellowknife Monday night to address the latest concerns associated with a berm break at Sherritt International's Obed Mountain coal mine near Hinton, Alta.
About 670 million litres of waste spilled from the mine on Oct. 31 (the original estimate was 1 billion litres) in what is believed to be Canada's largest-ever coal slurry spill. The government of Alberta has ordered Coal Valley Resources and Sherritt International to clean it up.
Bill Erasmus, Dene National Chief, says the clean-up order is good news, but he’s still concerned about the federal government's response. “The public needs to know that they too are taking responsibility here,” Erasmus said in a news release.
“What we are calling for is a ‘world-class’ regulatory and monitoring system that kicks in immediately after an environmental catastrophe happens."
In the same release, Erasmus points out the spill occurred 19 days after a directive was issued by the Alberta government, ordering Sherritt to clean up the waste water at the site. At the time, the Obed mine was not operating; the company says it was suspended so that it could re-open if global coal prices rebounded.
The Dene Nation's “Information Session: Toxic Waste Spill in Alberta – Advancing to the Northwest Territories” is set to take place Monday night at the Explorer Hotel at 7 p.m. It’s open to the public.
Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Chief Allan Adam from Fort Chipewyan, Alta. also plans to attend.