Eli Moonias says he has no confidence in the federal government’s environmental review process.
The chief of Marten Falls First Nation said there appears to be no accountability for the damage caused by the Alberta oil sands and that’s why he doesn’t trust the federal government to do a thorough job in its assessment in the Ring of Fire.
“No one is accountable with what’s happening with the Athabasca River situation,” he said. “I’m told that the poisons that seep into the river are dangerous. It will destroy the river. It will destroy life there. I don’t have confidence in the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency. I don’t trust them at all.”
He said people have told him that some of the dangerous chemicals being used in the tar sands will also be used in the Ring of Fire.
Although Moonias didn’t know the specific dangerous the supposed chemicals, he said he wants to find out. Moonias was one of many delegates at the annual Matawa First Nations gathering at the Valhalla Inn Tuesday.
The three-day meeting gives elders, chiefs and community members a chance to meet to discuss strategies as well as celebrate successes.
One of those successes included the decision by a federal court last week to deny motions filed by the federal government and Cliffs Natural Resources to negate evidence presented in a judicial review.
First Nation communities launched the legal action in November 2011 to look into the environmental assessment in the Ring of Fire.
Moonias said they want a longer, more thorough EA process that is a joint effort between all parties including First Nations.
Officials with Cliffs have visited some First Nation communities, but they weren’t necessarily touring to discuss the EA process, he said.
Cliffs intended to have the Ring of Fire project started in a few years. With First Nation communities calling for a halt of the environmental review, Moonias said they’ll have to wait to see how the judicial review plays out.
“If we are satisfied that the waters will be protected and we won’t have a chemical soup in 40 years, I’m sure we’ll find a way to make the project be approved,” he added.