Subject: Sisson Mine Project, Registry # 63169


Today (Friday 13 May, 2016) is the last day the public can weigh in on this awful open pit mine project.

Canada’s First Nations peoples have always stood up in defense of the land; it is important that all Canadians do our part. I’ve just got the information, which I dressed up into this very long submission.  If I wasn’t sharing this with you here, I would probably have picked one or two things and made a much shorter submission, but since I’m sharing this here I decided to load up the whole works.  Submissions don’t have to be long and complicated; feel free to make use of this.

Subject: Sisson Mine Project, Registry # 63169

To: The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and The Honourable Catherine McKenna

I am pleased to raise my voice in support the Maliseet First Nations who rightly oppose the proposed open-pit mine because of the terrible impact it will have on them and the environment. As big as Canada is, we simply can not afford the risk of environmental contamination we know will result from the Sisson open pit mine.

Since the Canadian government has finally endorsed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples it is unthinkable that a project that will so dramaticaly interfere with Maliseet First Nations people’s right to traditional use of crown land would even be considered.

Please heed the serious concerns of the Canadian citizens of the Maliseet First Nations. Don’t put the commercial interests of a private mining corporation ahead of the well being of Canadians and our environment. Government should seek to protect public health and safety, to ensure that the lives o citizens are not negatively impacted and/or endangered by a project like this open pit mine so fraught with risk. More and more people around the world are realizing that jobs aren’t any good if you can’t breathe the air or drink the water or grow food it is safe to eat.

The Sisson open-pit mine project is predicted to result in the loss of land (approximately 1,253 hectares), and residual impacts on resources used by Maliseet and Mi’gmag First Nations for traditional purposes.

The possibility of even a handful of the potential risks identified in the CEAA’s own report on the Sisson mine should be enough to halt this project.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) report on the open pit mine reveals:

  • negative effects on the atmospheric environment from emissions such as dust, odour, noise and vibration;
  • water quality degradation as a result of seepage (beween 130 and 170 litres per second!) from the tailings storage facility and release of water from the water treatment plant (i.e. increased concentrations of trace metals);
  • changes in water quantity and flow regimes as a result of water retention and discharges;
  • effects on fish and fish habitat including the direct and indirect loss of habitat;
  • fish would be lost,
  • effects on wildlife, including species at risk, from ingestion of contaminants, sensory disturbance, and habitat loss;
  • direct loss (destruction) and changes in the function of wetlands, including removal and alteration of habitat supporting avian species at risk;
  • people intermittently using the project area for hunting, fishing, trapping, and other activities may be exposed to elevated levels of contaminants in the atmosphere, drinking water, or in harvested foods
  • effects on human health from consumption of country food and water impacted by project emissions and discharges;
  • the tailings pond would seep into the surrounding environment,
  • water contaminated through mine contact and processing on the site would be discharged downstream,
  • that waste rock would generate acids,
  • local fresh-water resources would be used in the various processes on the site,
  • negative effects on the current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes by Aboriginal persons including hunting and fishing,
  • negative effects on archaeological resources; and
  • and that hazardous materials would be stored there to the extent that Emergency Response Plans would be required.

The CEAA concludes the Project is likely to result in significant adverse environmental effects on the current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes by Maliseet First Nations. Only a limited number of large contiguous Crown land blocks, particularly along the Saint John River valley, remain available to practice current uses for traditional purposes proximal to the Maliseet communities of Tobique, Kingsclear, Woodstock, and St. Mary’s First Nations. Within the remaining Crown land blocks, use by these First Nations is limited by other existing land uses. Given this context, the Agency concludes that the environmental effects of the Project, in combination with the cumulative environmental effects of other projects and activities, on the current use of lands and resources by Maliseet First Nations are also likely to be significant.

Health Canada, Maliseet First Nation and Mi’gmag First Nation have all asked for more samples to be collected showing pre-existing “baseline concentrations of potential contaminants in fish, wildlife, and vegetation.” The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Canada asked “the proponent to commit to follow-up studies of metal concentrations in wildlife species important to resource users and First Nations.”

And yet, according to the CEAA report, the proponent stated that “no further monitoring was warranted.”

The mining company’s consultants neglected to include arsenic in the non-carcinogenic risk evaluation, even though they admit arsenic concentrations may increase in local surface waters.

There is also no known solution to the risk of increased boron concentrations in fish tissue. We know evaluating trace metal impacts on human health after it occurs is not in keeping with the precautionary principle of avoidance, rather than insufficient mitigation and post-tragedy studies.

That the mine consultants “predicted a total tailings storage facility seepage rate between 130 and 170 litres per second and losses from the seepage collections system to groundwater between ten and 30 litres per second during operations” it is clear harmful water will not be under control on site

There are a lack of air quality monitoring commitments from the mine

In light of all of these things, it is grossly irresponsible to burden citizens with the responsibility of proving harmful water impacts have been caused by the mining company before investigation and mitigation by the proponent would occur.

The wishes of the First Nations communities opposing the Sisson mine must be respected; this project must not be given approval.

Laurel L. Russwurm

Additional Information about this Environmentally dubious project, courtesy of Ute Schmid Jones

The latest on the Sisson Mine Proposal: An open-pit mine in the heart of upper Nashwaak River valley
The Conservation Council of New Brunswick: Department of Environment and Local Government PDF Public Comment on the EIA Report of the Proposed Sisson Brook Mine, Project #1172

What they are mining:

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