February 18, 2013
The Environmental Law Clinic today asked Vancouver Island Health Authoritys Drinking Water Officer to issue a Hazard Prevention Order to address the risk to drinking water posed by the proposed Raven Underground Coal Project. Made on behalf of CoalWatch Comox Valley Society and supported by Fanny Bay Waterworks and Ships Point Improvement District two water suppliers below the proposed coal mine the request asks for an order under the Drinking Water Protection Act. The Clinics submission refers to an expert opinion from a hydro-geologist and engineer who provides evidence that:
- the mine is likely to release heavy metals such as arsenic into streams either used directly for drinking water or connected to aquifers used as drinking water sources; and
- the planned assessment and monitoring program for the mine is very weak under the current environmental assessment process, and is likely to not mitigate the risk adequately.
Todays request also provides information about the risks of Acid Mine Drainage, which destroyed the fishery in the Tsolum River, once created one of North Americas largest point sources of metal pollution at Brittania Creek, and caused the 1993 BC State of the Environment Report to state that Acid Mine Drainage was one of the main sources of chemical threats to groundwater quality in BC. Numerous examples of where mine-contaminated water has affected human health are documented in the submission. It also notes that Comox Valley Regional District, Comox Town Council and Courtenay City Council have all passed motions to oppose government processing the Raven project application until aquifer mapping of the area below the mine is done.