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Kamloops group wants more study on Ajax mine drinking water impact

August 14, 2017 - 6:30 PM

KAMLOOPS - A local group fighting the Ajax mine proposal wants more study on the potential impact the mine will have on drinking water.

An application for a Drinking Water Health Hazard Prevention Order has been sent to the Interior Health Authority by a legal team representing the Kamloops Area Preservation Association.

The document, addressed to the Drinking Water Officer at the Kamloops Public Health Unit, claims that the environmental impact study released by the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office last week is lacking a comprehensive examination of the impact the proposed KGHM Ajax mine could have on drinking water.

The legal team working with association is from the Environmental Law Centre at the University of Victoria.

"In the assessment they didn't consider cumulative effects," legal director Calvin Sandborn says. "They looked at potential impacts on the nearest receptor from the closest potential contamination site, but not the impacts from all the potential sources of contamination at the mine."

Sandborn adds the provincial study only looked at the impacts on ground water and ignored the potential effects surface water could have on drinking water in the area.

A drinking water prevention order can be issued by a public health official if they see the risk of contamination to drinking water. If the association's application is approved it could give far-reaching power to the Drinking Water Officer including the ability to apply to the Supreme Court for an injunction against a person or company that has violated the provinces Drinking Water Protection Act.

Sandborn says even if this application doesn't lead to a protection order for the drinking water around the proposed mine site, he hopes it at least leads to more study of the potential impacts on drinking water.

"We're asking that the health officials make submissions to the environmental assessment process that these problems be seriously studied and considered," he says.

The Environmental Assessment Office study of the mine proposal found Ajax is likely to have a significant adverse effect on the current use of lands and resources by the First Nations people who live in the region, but no other long term environmental impacts are expected.

However, the study conducted by Dr. Gilles Wendling of GW Solutions Inc. for the Preservation Association's application found with Peterson Creek and Davidson Creek both downstream from the mine site, potential contaminants could travel by ground water or surface water. In particular, the study points to the Peterson Creek aquifer as most likely to deteriorate due to seepage from the mine site.

To see the application sent to Interior Health, go here.

To see the B.C. EAO study, go here.

For more on the Ajax Mine proposal, go here.


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