Environment and Climate Change Canada is considering plans to impose new effluent limits that would reduce harmful discharges from coal mining by 2019.
Ottawa’s proposal would require new coal mines to collect and monitor all effluent through a final discharge point where it would have to meet new limits for suspended solids, nitrates and a toxic byproduct called selenium.
For existing mines, effluent limits would be monitored after discharge into the environment. The department held its first stakeholder consultation in Nova Scotia on Wednesday. More meetings are scheduled for Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia in coming weeks.
“It’s at the very preliminary stage; we don’t know even what the limits are that they are looking at,” Gretchen Fitzgerald, director of the Sierra Club of Canada, said after the briefing in Truro, N.S.
“Hopefully in the months ahead we will see more information.” Fitzgerald said she is concerned the department is proposing to allow coal mine tailings to be discharged into lakes and other natural water bodies with fish “under certain conditions.”
The department says coal waste discharge into lakes would have to be “shown as the best option for disposal, taking into account environmental, technical, socioeconomic and economic factors.”
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