RAVEN - Respecting Aboriginal Values and Environmental Needs

Groups call on the federal cabinet to save Fish Lake

MEDIA RELEASE

For Immediate Release
September 3, 2010

Ottawa – The Council of Canadians and MiningWatch Canada are calling on the federal cabinet to reject a proposed open-pit gold and copper mine which would destroy a pristine lake and contaminate nearby bodies of water.

The Harper government is expected to decide on the fate of Fish Lake in British Columbia as soon as next Friday.

On Tuesday September 7 at 11 am, the groups will deliver a petition with more than 10,000 signatures from across the country to the federal government in Ottawa.

“Lakes and rivers should not be used as private garbage dumps for mining companies,” says Maude Barlow, chairperson of the Council of Canadians.

The Tsilhqot’in National Government, backed by the Assembly of First Nations, opposes the destruction of Fish Lake, which is of profound cultural and spiritual significance to its people. It has said that if the federal cabinet does not listen to its own federal review panel which found that the mine would have ‘significant adverse environmental effects’, it will continue to take action to protect the lake, including blocking the access roads to the lake.

“We will stand shoulder to shoulder with the Tsilhqot’in to protect this lake,” vows Barlow. “The federal government would be wise to heed the federal review panel findings and shut down this mine proposal entirely or it will face huge resistance in British Columbia and across Canada.”

“Taseko’s proposal to use natural bodies of water as tailings ponds is permitted by a loophole in the Fisheries Act called Schedule 2,” says Ramsey Hart of MiningWatch. “Once placed on Schedule 2, lakes and rivers lose the protections normally required under federal law.”

The federal review panel’s recommendations serve to strengthen a legal challenge against Schedule 2, which argues that it is illegal for the federal government to allow the dumping of mining waste into Canadian lakes and rivers. The case is expected to be heard by the Federal Court this fall.

“Canada is one of the few countries in the world where mining companies are allowed to dump their tailings directly into lakes and rivers,” says Meera Karunananthan, water campaigner for the Council of Canadians. “Schedule 2 remains a threat to all lakes in Canada and must be eliminated. In the meantime, the cabinet must do the right thing and save Fish Lake from destruction.”

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For further information, contact:
Dylan Penner, Media Officer Council of Canadians, 613-795-8685, dpenner@canadians.org and see: www.canadians.org/TIA

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