Environmental group says Hollow Water sand mining project 'deadly'

Thursday, May 09, 2019
Winnipeg Sun
frack sand mine road clearrcut; Hollow Water First Nation; Manitoba
frack sand mine road clearrcut; Hollow Water First Nation; Manitoba

An environmental group in the province is now asking the federal government to step in and take over an environmental assessment of a frack sand mine in Hollow Water First Nation because it believes the province has failed in that regard.

Campaigner Eric Reder, who works for the Wilderness Committee’s Manitoba chapter, said Thursday that a proposed plan by Canada Premium Sands at a frack sand mine along the eastern shore of Lake Winnipeg will have fatal consequences for residents in Hollow Water.

“The risks from this project are insane,” Reder said. “My friends who live in that community, they’re going be going to funerals because of this project.”

Frack sand, or silica sand, is sought after by the fossil fuel industry for hydraulic fracking for oil and gas.

Reder also claimed that the province permitted clearcutting of the project’s plant site and roadways despite “the lack of required project information or an Environment Act license.”

“The process has really been corrupted,” Reder said.

But Sustainable Development Minister Rochelle Squires said Hollow Water First Nation has had a timber license and is a quota holder in the province and has been for quite some time.

“I object to Eric Reder’s assessment that the process is corrupt,” Squires said Thursday. “The process is proscribed in the Environment Act and is being followed entirely by our civil service. To say that our civil servants are acting in ways that are unbecoming is something I have to take absolute exception with.”

In December of last year, Hollow Water First Nation Chief Larry Barker said any issues with the planned operation adjacent to his reserve are issues the environmentalists or outsiders have.

“I really don’t care what environmentalists have to say about it,” Barker said in a release on Dec. 11. “We did our homework, we had numerous meetings with the company and any environmental concerns have already been dealt with. The plant is going to have the best ventilation available.”

On Tuesday, Barker said the whole issue has been blown out of proportion.

“They say we did no consultation… we’ve been working on this for four years,” Barker said.

Barker said “activists” have been “on his case” for a long time and said the environmentalists against what he is trying to do in Hollow Water got their licenses from “Cracker Jack boxes.”

Reder said it’s council and the chief that is pushing the project through. And he’s not alone in that assertion.

In an article published on the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives Manitoba’s website, Anne Lindsey, a long-time activist, individuals in the community were publicly shunned and deceived.

“The project has many drawbacks, including health and environmental impacts of frack sand processing on workers, nearby communities, water and land,” Lindsey wrote. “Of grave concern as well, is the disrespect shown by both the company and the provincial government to the community.”

A request for comment from the feds was not immediately returned on Thursday.

Read the original story here.

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