‘Could’ does not mean ‘would’ or even ‘likely’
- 13 Jul 2016
- The StarPhoenix
- BRUCE JOHNSTON
Potash project could contaminate lake, group warns
Controversial Yancoal mine proposal undergoing environmental review
Another environmental group is raising concerns about the proposed Yancoal potash project at Southey.
The Calling Lakes EcoMuseum (CLEM) — a group of environmentalists and Qu’Appelle Valley residents formed in 2014 over concerns about effluent contamination from the City of Regina — claims the $3.6-billion potash solution mine will draw too much water from Buffalo Pound Lake and risks contaminating groundwater and lakes in the Qu’Appelle Valley.
CLEM issued a news release Tuesday, calling for residents of communities in the Qu’Appelle Valley watershed to contact their MLA to discuss the location of the proposed mine site near Southey.
“The Calling Lakes EcoMuseum believes that this proposed mine is in the wrong location,’’ the release said. “This mine will affect the health and well-being of Buffalo Pound Lake, the Hatfield Aquifer and Pasqua and adjoining lakes.”
Specifically, CLEM claims the proposed solution mine poses a risk of:
- Groundwater contamination, including the Hatfield aquifer;
- Salt contamination to Pasqua and adjacent lakes via Loon Creek;
- Buffalo Pound dewatering at the rate of eight million gallons (35 million litres) of freshwater a year, and;
- Contamination of the Qu’Appelle watershed and water supply by this and other large industrial projects.
CLEM is just the latest group to raise concerns about the controversial project. In June, the Qu’Appelle Valley Environmental Association raised similar concerns about the water consumption of the proposed project, claiming it would consume the equivalent of about 50 per cent of the City of Regina’s water consumption, as well as inject 200,000 cubic meters of brine per day into underground formations, potentially contaminating groundwater supplies.
Also last month, the Havelock Special Projects Committee, representing some landowners in the Southey area, claimed that Yancoal was not respecting landowners in the area by buying land on a “piecemeal basis’’ and at significantly lower prices than what K+S offered to landowners in the Bethune area for its $4.1-billion Legacy project.
In response, Environment Minister Herb Cox noted that the project is undergoing an environmental impact assessment (EIA). “The purpose of the EIA process is to ensure economic development proceeds with appropriate environmental safeguards and in a manner broadly understood and acceptable to the public,’’ Cox said in a letter dated June 21.
Contacted Tuesday, Yancoal Canada Resources had not responded by press time.
But in an earlier statement, Yancoal spokeswoman Robin Kusch said many of the criticisms of the project have been addressed in the project’s environmental impact statement (EIS) released in April or could be raised for similar solution mine projects, like K+S’s Legacy project or Mosaic Potash Belle Plaine mine. She said the project’s water consumption, waste water disposal and other environmental mitigation would meet provincial environmental regulations.