Tribe Claims Canada OK’d Illegal Pollution

VANCOUVER, B.C. (CN) – Canada illegally allows a mining company to pollute waterways a Native American band uses for treaty-mandated fish harvesting, the Nisga’a Nation claims in court.
     The Nisga’a Nation asked the Federal Court of Canada to quash a decision of the country’s Minister of Fisheries and Oceans that allows Avanti Kitsault Mine to deposit the “deleterious substances” into river tributaries.
     Avanti Kitsault is reclaiming an old site to operate an open pit molybdenum mine, an ore processing plant, waste rock and waste-water management facilities and an explosives factory. It expects to extract 40 thousand to 50 thousand tons of ore a day for about 15 years.
     “Mining reclamation activities for the historic mine commenced in approximately 1996; however, as a result of the historic mining operations, and in particular the submarine disposal of mine tailings, the marine aquatic environment of Lime Creek and Alice Arm had been detrimentally affected,” the application states. “This, in turn, has had a detrimental and adverse effect on the fish that the Nisga’a Nation has the right to harvest under the Nisga’a Treaty.”
     The Nisga’a say the mine tailings contain arsenic, molybdenum, cadmium, lead and sulphur, and while the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans found that the project will harm, disrupt or destroy fish habitat, the company got authorization by preparing a “habitat compensation plan.”
     But Canada failed to consult the Nisga’a Nation and provide it with relevant information, allowing the mining company foul the waters by falsely claiming that there are no fish there.
     The Nisga’a Nation is represented by Gary Letcher with Edwards, Kenny & Bray in Vancouver.
     About 1,000 speakers of Nisga’a remain out of a population of about 6,000, according to Canadian Census figures. It is considered an endangered language. The tribal homelands are in Northwest British Columbia.

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