Feds balk at recommendations for Giant Mine clean-up

"The strange thing is… they're acting like you would expect the worst of the mining companies to act," said Weledeh MLA Bob Bromley in the N.W.T. legislature yesterday.

The federal clean-up team for Giant Mine says the extra steps it's being asked to take to deal with the contaminated site could increase the price of the clean up by millions, and delay work by several years.

The Mackenzie Valley Review Board gave its conditional approval to the clean-up plans this summer, provided that 27 further measures were taken at the site.

In a report discussed in the legislature yesterday, the federal government says six of those recommendations are of “significant concern.”

For instance, the government estimates that moving Baker Creek away from the mine site would cost between $25 and $45 million, having an oversight group could cost up to $800,000 a year, and conducting a human health assessment could take three to four years. They say the delays could cost up to $100 million, on top of the nearly billion dollar price tag.

Weledeh MLA Bob Bromley took issue with the clean-up team's analysis.

"The strange thing is, in their response they're acting like you would expect the worst of the mining companies to act," he told the legislature Monday. 

Bromley says the government should not ignore the report that was the result of years of input from the public and aboriginal groups. Rather, he thinks restoring public trust that the cleanup will be done properly should be the priority.

"The costs we're talking about may be tens of millions of dollars,” he said. “Those are substantial, but compared to the billion or so dollars that we're talking about here, there may be some worthwhile investments there."

The federal minister of Aboriginal Affairs has the final word about how the clean up should proceed.


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