The recent spill of toxic sludge at Ajka in Hungary should grab the attention of the public in the Nashwaak and Saint John river valleys. The proposal for an open-pit mine in the upper Nashwaak Watershed at Sisson Brook above Stanley poses a similar threat to both the Nashwaak and Saint John river systems.
Given the Hungarian disaster, it’s informative to put the threat of the Sisson Brook mine in perspective. In Ajka, a leak of one million cubic metres of toxic sludge has resulted in an environmental disaster initially covering 4,000 hectares and destroying local streams for the foreseeable future, while simultaneously threatening the Danube River more than 100 kilometres away.
The tailing dams at Sisson Brook will impound 100 million cubic metres of toxic tailings. The dams will be similar to those at Ajka and will be higher than the Mactaquac Dam. The tailings will imperil the Napadogan and Nashwaak streams and ultimately the Saint John River for a minimum of 20 years.
Experiences at similar mines across the world suggests this period of direct threat will be greatly extended by periodic mine shutdowns. The threat of catastrophic disaster will be accompanied by the daily poisoning of our air and water by the lead and arsenic emissions from this mine.
No amount of financial bonding will be sufficient to recover the Nashwaak and Saint John rivers should these dams fail. No amount of bonding will reverse the cumulative effects of arsenic and lead on the children of the Nashwaak Valley.
Is it really worth 20 years of 160 jobs to risk what for many New Brunswickers is their most valuable resource, and to expose our youth and ourselves to these risks?
Let the new provincial government know in no uncertain terms that this mine has to be stopped.