Environment Canada raises alarms on chromite mining development in Ring of Fire – by Tanya Talaga (Toronto Star – June 26, 2012)

The Toronto Star, has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on federal and Ontario politics as well as shaping public opinion.

The same toxic material that Erin Brockovich discovered in the water of a small California town could pollute northern Ontario due to chromite mining in the Ring of Fire, documents obtained by the Star show.
Environment Canada has raised a series of red flags regarding a massive chromite mining initiative in the Ring of Fire, located 500 kilometres north of Thunder Bay. The federal ministry warned in a letter to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency of potential adverse effects of mine waste, including the carcinogen chromium-6.

The letter is further proof of the need for proper environmental assessments on the Ring of Fire — something environmental advocates and First Nations leaders say has yet to happen.
However, Kate Jordan, an official with Ontario Ministry of the Environment, told the Star mining projects undergo “extensive reviews and approvals by a number of provincial and federal agencies” to make sure the environment is protected.
American mining firm Cliffs Natural Resources, is expected to sink roughly $3 billion into developing the mineral-rich ring. The investment encompasses an open-pit mine, a processing facility and an all-weather road to ship the ore south.
Environment Canada said in the letter it expects hexavalent chromium “will likely be released” into the area due to the mining activity and it may have “immediate or long-term harmful effect on the environment . . . or may constitute a danger to human life or health.”
Chromium-6 is a priority substance regulated by the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. It was the industrial pollutant in the drinking water that was linked to illness in Hinkley, Calif., and unearthed in the 1990s by Brockovich, a crusading law clerk.
The Atlanta-based U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also considers chromium-6 to be a potential carcinogen. Occupational exposure is associated with lung, nasal and sinus cancers.
Chromite is a key ingredient in stainless steel. All levels of government want to hasten development of the mine to bring jobs to the struggling north.

For the rest of this article, please go to the Toronto Star website: http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1216986–environment-canada-raises-alarms-on-chromite-mining-development-in-ring-of-fir