Media Release

Adams Mine Decision Expected This Week

Posted on behalf of CELA's clients: the Adams Mine Intervention Coalition

Jun 18 1998

Kirkland Lake. Local citizens are waiting anxiously for a decision later this week on a proposal to turn an abandoned open pit mine into a giant garbage dump. The proposal by Notre Development, a North Bay based general construction company, would fill the fractured pits with tens of millions of tonnes of mixed solid waste, causing concerns about the contamination of both ground and surface water in a large area south of the site in Boston Township, near Kirkland Lake. The proposal is on round three, having already been rejected by the provincial government in 1992 and by Metro Toronto in 1995. A fast-tracked environmental assessment was held in April, with the hearing panel's decision due in the Minister's office on June 19."We're really hoping it's strike three, and they're out", said Ambrose Raftis, a local citizen concerned about the environmental impacts of the proposed dump. "The game's gone on far too long. Especially, now that the provincial government's changed the rules, the players and the umpire." The provincial environmental assessment act saw some major changes under the current government, with hearing times reduced, public funding cancelled, and key issues eliminated. The Adams Mine hearing was the first hearing under the revised act, for which the hearing panel was allowed only three months in total. Hearings in the past for similar mega-sized projects have taken considerably longer, in order to fully assess all of the impacts. "If the panel was listening, then they'll say 'no' to the project", speculated hearing participant Joe Muething. "There were too many flaws in the design and the site, and too many contradictions in Notre's case for them to ever say 'yes' with any kind of credibility"Notre Development's design assumes that water will flow only into the pit, and not out through cracks or fissures in the fractured pit walls or beneath the base of the pit. Key issues that emerged in the hearing included:

  • There is no "real world" proof that the gravel blanket and drainage pipes, upon which the design depends, will last for 1000 years. The Board heard testimony that the conclusions about the lifespan of this essential component are based on the partial results of tests conducted in a laboratory.
  • The rock structures had not been thoroughly investigated. Water levels varied greatly in the single test hole drilled beneath the pit, indicating a possible escape route for contaminants.
  • Mineral development in surrounding areas would be jeopardized. Sinking a shaft or pit near the dump site would change the flow of the groundwater and could cause contaminants to escape from the site.
  • Notre's proposed plan would cause a vast area of mine tailings to be flooded for at least 1000 years. The tailings containment area at the Adams Mine was not designed to be maintained in this manner. No evidence was given at the hearing to indicate how often the large concrete dams that contain the tailings would have to be replaced or how this job could be accomplished. The recent disaster in Spain involving the failure of a tailings containment system should serve to emphasize the perils of ignoring this issue.

The fractured rock surrounding the Adams Mine has no ability to absorb any of the chemicals or heavy metals that will be present in the wastewater produced by the dump. Failure in Notre's theoretical design would result in serioius contamination of ground and surface water resources.The Minister of the Environment gave the hearing panel a June 19 deadline for completing their report. Public release is expected at that time.- 30 -For more information:Brennain Lloyd, Northwatch - 705-497-0373Martha McSherry - 705 567 4125Joe Muething - 705-544-8254Rick Lindgren, Counsel - Canadian Environmental Law Association, 416-960-2284