Some fantastic news from the Globe and Mail’s Mark Hume in today’s edition:
“For the first time in a century, salmon have returned to Britannia Creek and they are now building spawning beds in a stream that until a few years ago was toxic to all aquatic life.”
Ecojustice, then known as the Sierra Legal Defence Fund, first got involved with this issue in the late 1990s when we filed a complaint with the Commission for Environmental Cooperation alleging that Canada was systematically ignoring its own laws for fish and fish habitat protection by not addressing toxic discharges (known as “acid mine drainage”) from abandoned mine sites.
At the time, an Environment Canada employee wrote that Britannia mine, located in British Columbia’s Howe Sound, was the single worst point source of metal pollution in North America.
In response to our complaint, the CEC released a “factual record” in 2003 condemning Canada for the lack of attention given to the issue.
B.C. finally took action on Britannia mine, once the largest copper mine the province, in 2004 and now we can see the great things that happen when we clean up our messes.
There is still much work to be done. Environmental contamination from abandoned mines continues to be a chronic problem in B.C. and throughout Canada. It is estimated that there are more than 10,000 abandoned mines across the country.
We hope the happy news coming out of Howe Sound is not the last we will hear on this topic. Hopefully, this success story will inspire other cleanup efforts to be undertaken across the country, making for even more good news.