Watershed Watch Presents to Federal Review Panel on Impacts of New Prosperity Mine

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RiverWatershed Watch Salmon Society has been working recently with a team of technical experts on behalf of the Tsilhqot’in National Government (TNG) to review the deficiencies in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIS) of the New Prosperity Mine proposed for development near Williams Lake. A previous proposal by the proponent Taseko Mines Limited that would have used Fish Lake to store mine tailings was previously rejected. Despite this—and despite strong objections by TNG to the mine—a new proposal and EIS prompted government to strike a second review panel that is currently conducting hearings into the merits of approving this massive project.

Watershed Watch presented its findings on the extensive deficiencies of the baseline data and impact assessments, and industry’s proposed mitigation measures, during a special session on Aquatic Impacts on 30 July in Williams

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Lake. The Society, other TNG technical experts, and several independent experts from government and the private sector identified a shockingly large list of likely impacts to the area’s environment, should the project be approved. A large audience heard damaging testimony about likely impacts to fish populations and productivity, water quality and flow, grizzly bears and other wildlife, human use of the area, and general impairment to the functioning and continued existence of many of the ecological services now provided by Fish Lake and the surrounding environs. One lake expert predicted the death of Fish Lake within 10 years, should the mine be allowed to proceed. Taseko’s plans to mitigate mine impacts were also shown to be inadequate on a multitude of levels. The extensive list of criticism over this proposal can be found at http://www.ceaa-acee.gc.ca/050/documents-eng.cfm?evaluation=63928.

The panel is also scheduled to hear from the community in coming days. Given the major deficiencies and host of permanent environmental and social damage probable should the project proceed, the entire process has drawn a high level of interest to environmental assessment and process in Canada.

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