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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Slowly eaten into extinction, Pangolins are now the most illegally smuggled mammal : TreeHugger

Pangolin anteater
CC BY-SA 3.0 Wikipedia

CC BY-SA 3.0 Wikipedia
The IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species has been updated to reflect the sad fate of the 8 species of pangolins, a scaly anteater. All of them are now considered threatened to various degrees, with two species categorized as "critically endangered". Why are they facing extinction? Because their meat is in high demand at banquets in Vietnam and China and their distinctive scales are used in Chinese medicine (which is ridiculous when you know that the scales of pangolins are made of keratin, the exact same protein found in human nails and hair -- nothing special about it).
Pangolins not only have the distinction of being the world's only scaly mammal, but they are also the most smuggled mammal.
© AFP/Getty Images
According to experts at the Zoological Society of London, the demand for the animals in Asia has been so great that poachers are now turning to Africa, where four of the species are found. Conservationists say there is already evidence of an underground, intercontinental trade in pangolins between Africa and Asia. (source)
It is estimated that more than a million pangolins have been poached from the wild over the past decade.
The best way to help save the pangolin - along with regular anti-poaching efforts - would be to reduce demand from Asia with education campaigns, but that can take time and be expensive. Let's hope conservationists succeed in saving our very unique cousin in the mammal family...

Slowly eaten into extinction, Pangolins are now the most illegally smuggled mammal : TreeHugger:


'via Blog this'

Monday, October 13, 2014

America's ‘rattiest’ cities:

Below is the full list of cities on Orkin’s ‘rattiest’ cities:
1. Chicago
2. Los Angeles
3. Washington, D.C.-Hagerstown
4. New York
5. San Francisco-Oak-San Jose
6. Seattle-Tacoma
7. Detroit
8. Cleveland-Akron-Canton
9. Baltimore
10. Miami-Ft. Lauderdale
11. Dallas-Ft. Worth
12. Denver
13. Houston
14. Atlanta
15. Boston-Manchester
16. Minneapolis-St. Paul
17. Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto
18. Syracuse
19. Indianapolis
20. Charlotte

Autumn is the time of year when rodents are actively seeking food, water and shelter in preparation for winter weather. Each fall, rats and mice invade an estimated 21 million American homes.
Orkin recommends the following tips to help prevent rodents around the home:
  • Regularly inspect the home – inside and outside – for rodent droppings, rub marks or burrows.
  • Seal all cracks and gaps around utility penetrations larger than 1/4 of an inch, as well as install weather stripping at the bottom of exterior doors.
  • Trim overgrown branches, plants and bushes near the home, and consider keeping a 2-foot barrier between any landscaping and the home.
  • Store all food (including pet food) and garbage properly in sealed containers both indoors and outdoors.
  • Remove all pet bowls after animals are finished eating, and remove pet waste from the lawn promptly.

“To be truly radical is to make hope possible rather than despair convincing.” 
- Raymond Williams

Saving Endangered Species


Visit the IUCN website here:
Come see the SOS site here:
Save Our Species is a global coalition to build the biggest species conservation fund, supporting on-the-ground field conservation projects all over the world!
Companies are welcome to join this initiative! For more information please go to or write an email to

SOS brings together the scientific and successfully proven expertise of the 3 founding partners and leading organizations engaged in the conservation of nature: IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), GEF (Global Environment Facility) and the World Bank.

SOS is a scalable response to an emergency call from nature. We are facing the biggest extinction crisis in human history with 1 in 3 amphibians, 1 in 3 corals and 1 in 4 mammals at risk of extinction. 

We need to act NOW to stop this crisis!

Embedded image permalink

Planet Green ‏@PlanetGreen 
Watch: From the filmmakers of “The Cove,” a short about saving species

A new documentary from director Louie Psihoyos and the Oceanic Preservation Society is slated for a wide release later this year. The film is called “Racing Extinction,” and has big ambitions for preventing mass species loss.

New Yorkers got a sneak peak of the film during Climate Week last month, when the filmmakers projected video clips onto the buildings of the United Nations headquarters. The project aims to spread awareness about the dangers of a mass extinction and to spur viewers into action.

We can get a little taste of the project from this lovely little clip about the work of Joel Sartore, a photographer who has been working to document species that are on the brink of extinction.

“I’ve seen the power of media to affect social change,” Louie Psihoyos said in a director’s statement. “I don’t see this as an opportunity to despair, I think it’s an opportunity to actually feel that we are the only generation left in the history of the planet that can solve this.”

Racing Extinction

The team from @CoveMovie_OPSexposes species extinction with imagery that will change the way we see the world. #RacingExtinction
Tags: Animals | Documentaries | Endangered Species

To learn more about the film, check out the Racing Extinction website.

Related on  

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC the end of cheap oil

Published on Oct 7, 2013
A sustainable society is one that "meets the needs of the pres- ent without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."
From a systems point of view, a sustainable society is one that has in place informational, social, and institutional mechanisms to keep in check the positive feedback loops that cause exponential popula- tion and capital growth. This means that birthrates roughly equal death rates, and investment rates roughly equal depreciation rates, unless or until technical change and social decisions justify a consid- ered, limited change in the levels of population or capital.
Such a society, with a sustainable ecological footprint, would be almost unimaginably different from the one in which most people now live. Before we can elaborate on what sustainability could be, we need to start with what it need not be.
Sustainability does not mean zero growth. Rather, a sustainable society would be interested in qualitative development, not physical expansion. It would use material growth as a considered tool, not a perpetual mandate. Neither for nor against growth, it would begin to discriminate among kinds of growth and purposes for growth. It would ask what the growth is for, and who would benefit, and what it would cost, and how long it would last, and whether the growth could be accommodated by the sources and sinks of the earth.
A sustainable society would also not paralyze into permanence the current inequitable patterns of distribution. For both practical and moral reasons, a sustainable society must provide sufficiency and security for all. A sustainable society would not be a society of despon- dency and stagnation, unemployment and bankruptcy that current systems experience when their growth is interrupted. A deliberate
transition of sustainability would take place slowly enough, and with enough forewarning, so that people and businesses could find their places in the new economy.
A sustainable world would also not be a rigid one, with population or production or anything else held pathologically constant. One of the strangest assumptions of present-day mental models is the idea that a world of moderation must be one of strict, centralized government control. A sustainable world would need rules, laws, standards, bound- aries, social agreements and social constraints, of course, but rules for sustainability would be put into place not to destroy freedoms, but to create freedoms or protect them.
Some people think that a sustainable society would have to stop using nonrenewable resources. But that is an over-rigid interpretation of what it means to be sustainable. Certainly a sustainable society would use nonrenewable gifts from the earth's crust more thoughtfully and efficiently.

fukushima 2013 by helen caldicott

Published on Oct 7, 2013
An operation with potentially "apocalyptic" consequences is expected start -- "as early as November 8″ -- at Fukushima's damaged and sinking Reactor 4, when plant operator TEPCO will attempt to remove over 1300 spent fuel rods holding the radiation equivalent of 14,000 Hiroshima bombs from a spent fuel storage tank perched on the reactor's upper floor.

Fukushima Reactor 4

While the Reactor 4 building itself did not suffer a meltdown, it did suffer a hydrogen explosion, is now tipping and sinking and has zero ability to withstand another seismic event.

The Japan Times explained:

To remove the rods, TEPCO has erected a 273-ton mobile crane above the building that will be operated remotely from a separate room.

[...] spent fuel rods will be pulled from the racks they are stored in and inserted one by one into a heavy steel chamber while the assemblies are still under water. Once the chamber is removed from the pool and lowered to the ground, it will be transported to another pool in an undamaged building on the site for storage.

Under normal circumstances, such an operation would take little more than three months, but TEPCO is hoping to complete the complicated task within fiscal 2014.

"In the worst-case scenario," RT adds,

the pool could come crashing to the ground, dumping the rods together into a pile that could fission and cause an explosion many times worse than in March 2011.

Wasserman says that the plan is so risky it requires a global take-over, an urging Gunter also shared, stating that the "dangerous task should not be left to TEPCO but quickly involve the oversight and management of independent international experts."

Wasserman told Common Dreams that

The bring-down of the fuel rods from Fukushima Unit 4 may be the most dangerous engineering task ever undertaken. Every indication is that TEPCO is completely incapable of doing it safely, or of reliably informing the global community as to what's actually happening. There is no reason to believe the Japanese government could do much better. This is a job that should only be undertaken by a dedicated team of the world's very best scientists and engineers, with access to all the funding that could be needed.

The potential radiation releases in this situation can only be described as apocalyptic. The cesium alone would match the fallout of 14,000 Hiroshima bombs. If the job is botched, radiation releases could force the evacuation of all humans from the site, and could cause electronic equipment to fail. Humankind would be forced to stand helplessly by as billions of curies of deadly radiation pour into the air and the ocean.

As dire as Wasserman's warning sounds, it is echoed by fallout researcher Christina Consolo, who told RT that the worst case scenario could be "a true apocalypse." Gunter's warning was dire as well.

"Time is of the essence as we remain concerned that another earthquake could still topple the damaged reactor building and the nuclear waste storage pond up in its attic," he continued. "This could literally re-ignite the nuclear accident in the open atmosphere and inflame it into hemispheric proportions," said Gunter.

Wasserman says that given the gravity of the situation, the eyes of the world should be upon Fukushima:

This is a question that transcends being anti-nuclear. The fate of the earth is at stake here and the whole world must be watching every move at that site from now on. With 11,000 fuel rods scattered around the place, as a ceaseless flow of contaminated water poisoning our oceans, our very survival is on the line.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Worldwide Water

New Weather Map

This stunning map represents the temperatures measured by @NOAA last week …  #SXSWeco

NOAAVerified account


NOAA provides science, service and stewardship to protect life and property, and conserve/protect the Earth's natural resources. (Follows are not endorsements).
 USA (Formerly @usNOAAgov)

 Joined April 2008

This stunning map represents the temperatures measured by @NOAA last week 

"We Didn't Start the Fire"

A New Toy for Weather Junkies
It's another day on Earth, and we've got something you just have to see.
by Susan Cosier  @susancosier • October 6, 2014
This image may look like some epic Game of Thrones battle between winter zombies and dragon fire taking place across North America, but it’s really just a fancy new weather map.

The colors—ranging from bright yellow (113 degrees Fahrenheit) to white (freezing)—represent the temperatures measured last week when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration unveiled its High-Resolution Rapid Refresh model.

The new forecasting tool updates every 15 minutes, instead of every hour as the previous model did. But the neatest thing is that the model’s resolution is four times finer than its predecessor. So now we can zoom in to see what’s happening weather-wise in our neighborhoods, not just across the whole city (see below).

HRRR will allow meteorologists from Baja, Mexico, to Bangor, Maine, to give more accurate warnings when extreme weather is on the way—which may be more often as climate change breathes down our necks like Drogon.

Photo: NOAA

Like this article? Donate to NRDC to support OnEarth's groundbreaking nonprofit journalism.
  1. Billy Joel - We Didn't Start the Fire - YouTube

  2. Artist: Billy Joel
  3. Album: Storm Front
  4. Released: 1989

Not just a mission but a point.

Strategy "means having not just a vision statement but a passion. Not just a mission but a point." 

Orangutan Researcher:

Strategy "means having not just a vision statement but a passion. Not just a mission but a point." 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The New Alaska Gold War: Gold mines can go bust, but salmon are a renewable resource that enriches everyone

A mine in Bristol Bay could produce more gold than the Klondike gold rush—and put the world's largest salmon fishery out of business.

—By Kenneth Miller

 Igiugig, Alaska.

 At the north end of Iliamna Lake, a company called Northern Dynasty Mines aims to unearth what may be the largest gold deposit—and the second-largest copper deposit—in North America. The proposed Pebble Mine complex would cover some 14 square miles. 

It would require the construction of a deepwater shipping port in Cook Inlet, 95 miles to the east, and an industrial road—skirting Lake Clark National Park and Preserve and traversing countless salmon-spawning streams—to reach the new harbor. 

At the site's heart would be an open pit measuring two miles long, a mile and a half wide, and 1,700 feet deep. 

Over its 30- to 40-year lifetime, the Pebble pit is projected to produce more than 42.1 million ounces of gold, 24.7 billion pounds of copper, 1.3 billion pounds of molybdenum—and 3 billion tons of waste.

Northern Dynasty insists that the impact to the environment will be minimal, but there's good reason to question such optimism. 

The EPA identifies hard-rock mining as the leading source of toxic releases in the United States, and open-pit mines are the worst offenders. 

In recent decades, these huge gashes in the earth—which allow for the exploitation of large low-grade ore deposits such as those found along Iliamna Lake—have replaced underground excavations as the most common type of mine. 

Giant machines scoop out a man-made canyon; mineral-rich rock is separated from the worthless stuff, crushed in an on-site mill, and treated with chemicals to strip away the valuable material—for gold and copper, less than 1 percent of what is mined. 

Unused rock is stored in enormous piles, while the mill waste, a thick slurry known as tailings, is sequestered in an artificial pond. (The Pebble Mine's tailings pond would likely measure some 10 square miles.

In theory, the pond—along with pumps and diversion channels, and perhaps a layer of soil tamped over the waste rock—keeps any harmful substances from leaching into the environment.

In practice, mining waste can react with air and precipitation to create sulfuric acid runoff. 

It can contaminate streams and groundwater with heavy metals such as mercury, arsenic, and selenium. 

The chemicals used in processing the rock, including cyanide, can escape through accidents or leaks.

"I know the folks who build the Pebble Mine are going to try to do a good job," says David Chambers, a Montana mining engineer and geophysicist who runs the nonprofit Center for Science in Public Participation (CSP2).

"What I can say is that there will be problems. I've never seen a mine that doesn't have them." 

If Pebble's poisons were to leach into nearby rivers, it could be devastating not only to the fish but to all the creatures that rely on them—from grizzly bears and bald eagles on up to native hunter-gatherers and lodge owners.

The damage could spread far beyond Igiugig.

Bristol Bay is home to the world's largest commercial wild salmon fishery; many of those fish spawn in the Kvichak and other tributaries in the Iliamna Lake area.
This $93 million industry employs some 12,500 people and markets its product around the globe. "About 8 or 9 million salmon go up to the lake every year to spawn," says Nick Kouris, a Greek-born gillnetter who has worked the bay since 1963. "If there's a spill, it's going to be a disaster."

For Northern Dynasty, Pebble could prove to be a bonanza. Metal prices have climbed sharply over the past two years, driven largely by the economic booms of India and China, which have heightened demand for jewelry as well as industrial metals (copper is a key ingredient in electronic components; molybdenum, in steel alloys). Thanks to rising oil prices, gold, a traditional hedge in times of inflationary fears, has soared past $500 an ounce.

The Pebble deposit's potential worth is in the tens of billions. 

And this trove is just part of what may be a vast agglomeration of minerals coughed up by a massive volcano millions of years ago. Recent discoveries of higher-grade ore could lead Northern Dynasty to build an underground mine just east of the pit; early estimates suggest that its value could rival that of its neighbor.

Other mining companies have staked claims totaling roughly 1,000 square miles around Northern Dynasty's turf, and the federal Bureau of Land Management reportedly aims to open 3.6 million acres beyond that to mineral exploitation.

   Map by Kopp Illustration

Most claims never become actual mines. But if even a fraction of them do, Lieutenant Governor Loren Leman told an audience in 2004, 
"this could be Alaska's second gold rush." 

Advocates and foes of Pebble see it as a test case. If it proceeds, the Bristol Bay watershed could be transformed from a sparsely settled wilderness into a busy mining district,
its pristine landscape gouged beyond recognition.

EVER SINCE THE KLONDIKE GOLD RUSH of the late 1890s, Alaska's fortunes have been tied to the vicissitudes of a resource-extraction economy. Successive bouts of gold fever brought waves of settlers and flushes of prosperity, the last of which petered out by the 1920s. 

Then, in 1957, oil was discovered on the Kenai Peninsula, providing the impetus for statehood two years later and the capital to fund it. 

Another flood of riches came in 1968, with the discovery of North America's largest oil field at Prudhoe Bay. 

Workers poured in from around the world to grab high-paying jobs building the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. 

Royalties from North Slope oil eventually allowed Alaska to abolish state income taxes—instead, every resident receives a yearly dividend of almost $1,000.

There is a dark side, of course, one exemplified by the Exxon Valdez disaster and the warming trend—fueled in part by Alaska's own hydrocarbons—melting the permafrost beneath many Arctic villages and the pipeline itself.

And busts have invariably followed the booms. In 1985, petroleum prices collapsed, triggering bank defaults and mortgage foreclosures. Although the economy recovered, the good times never fully returned. North Slope production has been declining since the early '90s.

In response, the state's politicians have touted more extraction, including drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), and building a natural gas pipeline from the North Slope to the Lower 48.

Mineral extraction is a less reliable cash cow than petroleum production (the royalties mining companies pay Alaska are less than 3 percent of the value of their net revenues, versus up to 25 percent for oil companies).

The Canadian mining company Teck Cominco first staked the Pebble claim in 1988 
Gold prices soon sagged, however, and the site lay dormant for more than a decade. 

In 2001, as gold rebounded, another Canadian company—Northern Dynasty Minerals—bought out Teck Cominco's mining rights. 

 It formed an Anchorage-based subsidiary, Northern Dynasty Mines, which began quietly assessing the site's potential. Three years later, convinced it had a whopper, the company upgraded Pebble from an "exploration" to a "development" project and notified the state that it planned to apply for mining permits.

Helicopters began buzzing over the site, work crews set up rigs to drill core samples, scientists started taking environmental measurements, and residents of the villages around Iliamna Lake began to take notice.

 consulting geologist brought a long list of open-pit metal mines—several built in the past 20 years and touted as state-of-the-art—that had befouled their surroundings: 
i) the Gilt Edge Mine in South Dakota,
ii) Zortman Landusky in Montana, 
iii) Grouse Creek in Idaho, 
iv) Rain in Nevada, Summitville in Colorado, 
v)  Greens Creek and Red Dog in Alaska. 

Evidence of fish kills, acidified streams, and land blanketed with toxic dust. 

Some mine owners had gone bankrupt, leaving festering scars that would have to be decontaminated in perpetuity; because the reclamation bonds (a security deposit paid to the state) had been inadequate, taxpayers were forced to foot the bill. 

And Alaska's reclamation rules are far laxer than those of most states, allowing companies to substitute a "corporate guarantee"—a promise—for a portion of actual bonds.

Alaska's Department of Natural Resources even signed a memorandum of understanding with Northern Dynasty, agreeing to help ensure "the timely and efficient completion" of the permitting process (see "Minions of Midas," page 50).

There is little doubt that the state, left to its own devices, would sign off on the mine: Alaskan officials have almost never turned one down. 

Salmon returning to spawn in Iliamna Lake Emily Chenel

Northern Dynasty estimates that the Pebble Mine would require 2,000 workers during the construction phase and 1,000 thereafter.

Skilled jobs would pay up to $60,000 a year. Doubters contend that the borough's 1,600 residents—43 percent of whom are under 18 or over 65—can't possibly fill those jobs, and that the outsiders who will come to work on the project will tax the land and degrade native culture. Still, five villages and the borough assembly have passed resolutions in favor of the mine, hoping that it will attract more development and more jobs.

ONE VERSION OF THE FUTURE can be found in Iliamna, the Pebble project's lakeshore base of operations. Most of the region's villages are sleepy places where the loudest sound is the wind off the tundra. By comparison, Iliamna (pop. 104) is a metropolis. Northern Dynasty has rented several buildings by the airstrip, and pickup trucks roar in and out of their parking lots. A helicopter clatters over an equipment yard, ferrying in pieces of drilling apparatus. Hard-hatted workers scurry about, clutching clipboards.

In a huge loaf-shaped white tent known as the core shack, geologist Jason McLaughlin is cataloging samples drilled from Pebble's depths. The shack is lined with plywood shelves and worktables holding hundreds of shallow cartons. Each contains one 10-foot core sample, cut into five pieces, and is marked with the coordinates of its provenance. McLaughlin, an affable 35-year-old from Vancouver, British Columbia, spends his days estimating the mineral content of each sample and using the information to create maps of the site's geology. "This is good stuff," he says, examining a gray-white tube flecked with a faint glitter. "Those little specks are chalcopyrite. They're about 35 percent copper."

When McLaughlin finishes with a sample, it's hauled outside to be sawed in half lengthwise; one of the halves is then shipped off to be assayed at an independent laboratory in Vancouver.

BRUCE JENKINS, the chief operating officer of Northern Dynasty has an unusual background for a mining boss: He earned an M.S. in fisheries ecology. "I've been in the business for 30 years," says Jenkins, 55, on the phone from Anchorage, "and have concentrated on ensuring that projects get designed and built in a manner that is sensitive to environmental values."

Jenkins has a ready rebuttal, in briskly technical lingo, to almost every concern the Pebble critics raise. There's no need to fret about acid runoff, he says. "Ninety-five percent of the material removed from the pit will be nonreactive material. But we designed a mill process that would separate the reactive streams, and they will be disposed of in the tailings impoundment, surrounded by rock that is acid-consuming and submerged in subaqueous storage."

Cyanide? Not a problem. If Pebble uses the reagent—which it may not—to extract gold from low-grade ore, it will do so in a strictly controlled manner. Unlike heap-leach mines, in which cyanide is dribbled through open-air piles of ore, Pebble would use the chemical in a closed, in-mill circuit. "The cyanide is then removed and destroyed," he explains, "before the tailings are shipped off to the tailings pond."

The mine's size and location? Barely relevant. Few salmon spawn so far up the Koktuli River, he says, and the Upper Talarik will be protected by geology and distance. "The footprint of our mine and our waste storage facility represents less than 0.06 percent of the entire watershed that supports the Bristol Bay fishery. Think about that number!" And in the unlikely event that the mine does disrupt fish populations, the company's "no net loss" policy mandates enhancing them by other means. "You look at what the limiting factors are in a stream. You can remove gradient or velocity barriers. Maybe you add a little extra flow in the winter to offset freezing and damage to eggs that were deposited in the fall."

Some experts remain unconvinced. Jim Kuipers, a veteran mining engineer who consults for public interest groups, notes that the Pebble copper deposit is of a chemical type known as porphyry, "and you cannot point to a porphyry copper in the proximity of water resources that hasn't caused problems. There are things that can be done to mitigate it, but in many cases the mitigations aren't adequate."

David Chambers elaborates: "Mining companies will tell you, ‘Bad things happened in the old days. We know how to do it now.' But I've got enough gray hair to tell you that's the same thing they said in the old days, too." Even at the best-planned mines, he says, tailings ponds leak. Cyanide tanker trucks skid off icy roads. And exploration companies like Northern Dynasty enter partnerships with (or sell out to) "majors"—multinational corporations, such as Newmont, Barrick, or AngloGold Ashanti, that have the experience and capital to operate a mine over the long haul.

Northern Dynasty is currently seeking a major to run Pebble. The people who call the shots, Chambers observes, "won't be the ones who made the promises. And they're going to be under a lot of pressure to operate in a profitable manner. 

Like the bumper sticker says, ‘Shit happens. '"

FOR MANY PEOPLE in the Bristol Bay region, taking a gamble on the Pebble Mine is preferable to accepting the bleak economic certainties of the status quo.

But others are not willing to risk their birthright. The village of Nondalton, which is as close to the proposed mine as Iliamna—and stands to gain as much—was among those that voted against the plan.

Northern Dynasty expects to file for federal permits next year, at which point a public comment period will begin. Given the breadth and vigor of resistance, an analyst wrote last year in the Resource Investor, "the risk to the project's development…should not be underestimated."

Yet the question remains: If Pebble falls through, how will people make a living?

Gold mines can go bust, but salmon are a renewable resource that enriches everyone, notes Kraft. "They feed not only the United States—they feed the world," he says. "Everybody has a stake here."

Read More:

Also read: How Mining Companies Have Struck Gold In Their Deal With Alaska


After the Alaska article appeared, British Columbia had a mining disaster.  Many cautionary statements made in the article came to pass in Canada.

Mount Polley disaster undermines public trust – 

by Justine Hunter (Globe and Mail 

– September 21, 2014)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.
VICTORIA — When Enbridge Inc. sought approval to build the Northern Gateway oil pipeline, Premier Christy Clark said she would oppose the project so long as the environmental safety regime on land and on the water was in doubt. In its formal rejection letter, her government stated: “‘Trust me’ is not good enough in this case.”
The same could be said in the case of the Mount Polley mine. And the Clark government should be worried that this lack of faith could spill across the resource sector.
It is still not clear why the mine’s tailings dam burst last month. Environment Minister Mary Polak says there is no evidence that her government’s cutbacks to enforcement and inspections were to blame.
The breach in the dam flushed 24 million cubic metres of water and mine tailings into Quesnel Lake. Mining industry and government officials alike tugged their forelocks and promised to review dam design and maintenance. If the public focuses only on the question of dam safety, they will be getting off lightly.
Experts have warned, time and again, that provincial budget cuts to environmental regulation could result in a catastrophe. Here are just two examples: 

Mount Polley’s Sister Mine: We Must Do This One Right – by Wade Davis (The – September 22, 2014)

Red Chris mine is expected to yield a vast fortune. But how to insure against another catastrophe?
The highest levels of corporate integrity and responsibility should be the standard for any new mine in Canada, and especially for one with as much potential as Imperial Metals’ Red Chris project, situated at the heart of the Sacred Headwaters in remote northwestern British Columbia. Imperial Metals has acknowledged that all exploration, regulation and construction costs will be reclaimed within two years of the mine’s anticipated three decades of active production.
If true this immense and certain profitability ought to allow both the company and the government to push the limits of excellence on every front, assuring the public at every step in the process that costs and/or expediency will never deflect them from their goal of building an exemplary mine. It is in the interests of all of the mining industry and both federal and provincial governments that such high standards be set for Red Chris. Civic and corporate responsibility aside, self-interest alone would suggest that Imperial ought to build a great mine.
Consider the optics of Imperial’s immediate dilemma. Todagin Mountain, site of the Red Chris mine, is home to the largest concentration of stone sheep in the world, a resident population that attracts remarkable numbers of predators. A wildlife sanctuary in the sky, the massif looks west to Edziza, sacred mountain of the Tahltan; north to the Grand Canyon of the Stikine, internationally known as the K2 of white water challenges; east to the Sacred Headwaters, birthplace of the Stikine, Skeena and Nass Rivers; and beyond to the Spatsizi, widely recognized as the Serengeti of Canada. Read the rest of this entry »

Anger and confusion after worst disaster in Canadian mining history darkens prosperous B.C. town – by Brian Hutchinson (National Post – September 13, 2014)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.
“Check your knives at the bar,” reads a sign inside this village’s only watering hole. In hard times, before the Mount Polley mine opened 17 years ago, there wasn’t much work to be found, and folks sometimes turned as sour as the cheap beer and boxed wine. Things could get rough inside the Likely saloon.
Likely has enjoyed much better days lately, thanks to the mine and the wealth it was generating. But one morning in early August, a section of the tailings pond dam up at the Mount Polley mine crumbled, releasing 10 million cubic metres of dirty mine water and almost five million cubic metres of finely crushed rock, known as tailings.
The water and tailings formed a thick slurry that roared down Hazeltine Creek, knocking down trees and anything else in its way. It poured into Quesnel Lake, one of the largest — and the deepest — fresh water lakes in B.C.
Since that cataclysmic event, the worst of its kind in Canadian mining history, a cloud has hung over little Likely, a village of perhaps 350 huddled at the top of Quesnel Lake, 600 kilometres north of Vancouver. There is anger here, and resentment. Divisions have formed and blame is assigned. But confusion reigns.
Some local residents and First Nations members claim their lake is now fatally toxic, that the water is peeling skin from fish and is even burning human flesh. Others say that’s just wild fear-mongering. The fact is, no one knows what the accident really means for their lake and their town, even four weeks later. Read the rest of this entry »