Environment Act Failing to Protect Manitobans

Thursday, January 24, 2019
Eric Reder

New frack sand mine proposal ignores dangers to nature and health

WINNIPEG - A proposal to mine for frack sand near Hollow Water First Nation is dangerous for people and climate. The floundering process highlights the inadequacy of Manitoba’s Environment Act, which the government has failed to improve.

Despite years of the company, Canadian Premium Sand, claiming the contrary — the new mine proposal indicates it will create dangerous silica sand air pollution. It can lead to the lung disease Silicosis and lung cancer and has been linked to tuberculosis, and other diseases: chronic obstructive pulmonary, kidney and autoimmune. In some cases breathing silica dust can lead to death. 

“The company’s own proposal admits the resulting silica dust will be two to five times worse than the maximum recommended air quality index. It’s unacceptable to expose residents of Hollow Water and others to that risk.”

The sand being mined will be used for fracking, a destructive process used to extract oil and gas which causes water pollution and earthquakes. This mine will expand fossil fuel infrastructure, which contradicts recent climate science requiring an immediate end to fossil fuel use. 

“This mine will poison groundwater all over Canada as well as the global climate,” said Reder. “Shipping this sand out for fracking elsewhere is like throwing your garbage over the fence into the neighbour's yard and saying, ‘not my problem.’”

The proposal is missing critical components essential for the public to make an informed decision about the risks of proceeding with this project. The Manitoba government’s weak Environmental Assessment and Licencing Branch has not required the company to provide local air quality information, groundwater assessment and not even a detailed assessment of the sand deposit they’re planning on mining.

The only information made available during the current public review process is from the company trying to sell us the project. Information from the Technical Advisory Committee — the public experts tasked with reviewing the project — won’t be available until after the public comment period closes on February 12. This failing of The Environment Act has been recognized for years. The previous government began the process of revising The Environment Act, but the current government hasn’t made progress.

“The Environment Act staff is at fault here and that ultimately means Sustainable Development Minister Rochelle Squires is at fault,” said Reder. “And the complete lack of progress on improving The Environment Act lies at the feet of Premier Brian Pallister.”

“Failing premier, failing laws, failing bureaucrats, failing corporate proposal — Manitobans must demand better or pay a steep price,” railed Reder.

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For more information, please contact:

Eric Reder, Wilderness and Water Campaigner
204-997-8584, eric@wildernesscommittee.org

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