Frack Sand Mine & Processing Facility License in Appeal
The Canadian Premium Sand (formerly Claim Post Resources Inc.) open pit mine on the East Side of Lake Winnipeg will extract 45 million tones of aggregate to produce 26 million tones of Tier 1 frack sand over the life span of the operation and can be expanded as the company has noted if demand warrants. The company intends to be fully operational sometime in 2019 and will make a net profit after cost and expenses of 337 million dollars over the life of the mine.
There are social, economic and environmental costs that were not addressed before approval for the project was granted by the government. Laying aside the impacts at the landscape level there are four primary costs and they are health, water consumption and quality, transportation and impacts to Section 35 right holders.
The license, issued by the Province of Manitoba, is now in appeal by a coalition that includes Boreal Action, Indigenous community members and cottage owners on the East Side of Lake Winnipeg.
SECTION 35 RIGHT HOLDERS COSTS:
Given the location of the proposed open pit mine and processing there are be a host of adverse impacts to Section 35 Right holders that must be legally addressed by the Crown, not the company, at the earliest possible stages of the process through a separate consultation process.
The section 35 process that was conducted had many flaws and there are numerous community members who are severely opposed to this project, which has already clear cut a community trapline. Only one treaty 5 First Nation was consulted and there are others, including Metis land users that have not been addressed in any way. Camp Morning Star was established by Hollow Water community members as a sacred fire and place for concerned people from the community to get answers to questions that were not being addressed by Chief and Council or Canadian Premium Sand. The project was rubber stamped by the Hollow Water band council before anyone even heard about it. We know they received a significant pay out to pay their part in delivering the land and water resources to the company.
Frack sand is a fine particulate matter and once airborne can cause the following problems for both works at the mine site and for communities near the mine site, this includes silicosis – carcinogen diereses,lung ailments such as emphysema and bronchitis. It has also been linked with a variety of autoimmune diseases, such as scleroderma, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune hemolytic anemia, chronic thyroiditis, and hyperthyroidism, and to kidney-related diseases, such as chronic renal disease.
WATER CONSUMPTION & QUALITY COSTS:
Based on similar operation in Wisconsin and Minnesota, where the majority of frack sand in North America is currently produced, water consumption can range from 1.6 million litres per day to roughly 7.6 million litres per day in the processing of the frack sand.
The concentration of the polyacrylamides used in the frack sand washing process may vary substantially, levels must be continuously monitored, because although polyacrylamide is itself nontoxic, unpolymerized acrylamide is a known neurotoxin and can occur in low concentrations within sand washing solutions.
An emerging and potentially highly damaging water pollution problem is the issue of acid mine runoff that could contaminate. The more acidic water allows heavy metals at toxic levels to leach into water supplies, such as arsenic, cadmium, aluminum, lead, manganese, copper. This water contamination problem extends to reclamation processes used in frack sand mining operation in the US.
We can expect 120 truck loads of frack sand being transported a day, 24/7 year round, to Winnipeg which will be shipped by rail to end user throughout the North American fracking market.
The most direct, cost efficient route, for the company is Hwy. 304 to Hwy. 59 to Winnipeg. 304 is a single lane road to Hwy 59, also a single lane road to South Beach Casino, at which point Hwy. 59 turns into a two lane hwy south to Winnipeg.
This increase in truck traffic, on a daily basis, will increase hwy traffic accident rates on both hwy 304 and hwy 59, this is especially problematic for the tens of thousands who travel regularly to their cottages in the east beaches communities on a regular basis on Hwy. 59 and many more who travel daily in the summer months to visit the beaches, such as Grand Beach.
Related to this, there will be an increase of cost to provide first responders, such as EMTs, firefighters, and police officers, due to increases in vehicular collisions directly related to the increase in volume of heavy truck traffic. Likewise, increased traffic flow in winter months may require additional plowing and road salting to accommodate truck traffic operating at off-peak hours. Finally, the replacement times and associated costs of road repair will be accelerated as the volume of truck traffic, hauling heavy loads of frack sand, will lead to much higher road wear than is currently the case.
Boreal Action is a founding member of the coalition What the Frack, which was established to ensure that a full environmental assessment of this project was conducted. They initially were attempting to go under the radar as a quarry, which doesn’t require the same scrutiny as a mine and processing plant.
We are appealing the license and requesting that the Federal Government rethink their refusal to review the entire project, the open pit mine, the processing facility and access road to both the mine and processing facility, in a single, full, transparent public panel review process by an independent body such as the Clean Environment Commission or a Joint Federal/Provincial review panel. This type of transparent and semi-independent panel review process is the only venue where not only are all benefit, but also all of the cost are reviewed and this must be done prior to more destruction and full implementation of this premature license.
Secondly, that the Crown immediately undertake its legal obligation to meaningful consultation with all Section 35 right holders in the affected communities, which is separate and independent from any review and approval process that government undertakes with respect to this proposed development project.
We are opposed to the idea of any start up industry that exists solely to feed the oil and gas fracking industry. It is a diminishing return in terms of getting the last oil and gas reserves from deep in underground rock formations by pumping toxic chemicals, water and sand in to crack the shale and extract the otherwise unaccessible remaining reserves. It is the wrong industry to invest in at this time when we are so far behind in our progress of the implementation of renewal energies and the urgent need to address climate change.