The fate of Sandy Pond & fight for all ponds

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And today, a story from Newfoundland that has ramifications for lakes and ponds right across the country. A massive nickel-mining operation intends to use a body of water called Sandy Pond as a dump, for its toxic tailings. That's thanks to a loop hole in federal legislation --not to mention the encouragement of the provincial government. But not without a fight for all of pond-kind. 

Part Three of The Current

The fate of Sandy Pond & fight for all ponds - Mercy nun

Sister Mary Tee had never seen Sandy Pond -- but knew she wanted to save it.
The Roman Catholic nun is part of the Sandy Pond Alliance. It's named after a small, once pristine pond that lies within the boundaries of one of Newfoundland and Labrador's largest industrial sites.

The VALE nickel processing facility is under construction now at Long Harbour, Newfoundland. Both levels of government gave VALE, and other mining companies, permission to make some Canadian freshwater lakes and ponds "tailings impoundment areas" And that's Sandy Pond's fate -- a tailings dump.

Sister Tee and her partners were unable to save Sandy Pond, but hope to save others from a similar fate by changing the law. But before her day in court, Sister Tee wanted to visit the Pond. We aired some tape.

Sister Mary Tee is a Mercy nun and coordinator of her religious order's Centre for Ecology and Justice.

The fate of Sandy Pond & fight for all ponds - Sandy Pond Alliance

Dams will soon make Sandy Pond larger, but it won't mean a bigger home for the creatures that live in it. Chemicals from VALE's nickel refining process will likely finish off most of the pond's life.

Owen Myers is a salmon fisherman and lawyer for the Sandy Pond Alliance. It was unable to rescue the pond but is returning to court to to try to prevent the same thing from happening to other Canadian lakes, ponds and rivers. Mr. Myers was in St. John's.

The fate of Sandy Pond & fight for all ponds - Mining Association of Canada

The Sandy Pond Alliance is challenging what it calls a loophole in federal law, that makes it possible for mining companies to use ponds and lakes for waste containment. Miners say the industry is a vital part of the Canadian economy and some environmental sacrifices can be made for greater prosperity.

A recent news release from the Mining Association of Canada says miners are prepared to spend $140 BILLION over the next 5 years on projects that will undergo a more streamlined environmental review than the Sandy Pond project.

Pierre Gratton is president of the Mining Association of Canada. He joined us from Ottawa this morning.

We invited Canada's Natural Resources Minister, Joe Oliver, to join our discussion on this topic, but we didn't hear back from his office.

Last Wednesday, he announced those plans we just mentioned to streamline the country's environmental review process. We aired a clip from Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver speaking at that news conference, announcing changes to the country's environmental review process.

This segment was produced by St. John's Network Producer, Marrie Wadden.

Last Word - Seal Hunting Promo

Albertans vote for a new government today and will decide if four decades of Conservative reign will continue. If not, it seems likely the Wildrose party will get a turn at leading the province. We'll have full analysis of the changes on tomorrow's edition of The Current. Change is certainly in the air here in Newfoundland. We'll have the full story tomorrow.

But on today's Last Word, producer Heather Barrett gives us a taste of a battle brewing over one of the province's oldest traditions.


Other segments from today's show:

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