Anaconda residents raise fears over contamination from proposed slag project

Mona Mattei
By Mona Mattei
December 3rd, 2010

Residents of Anaconda near the historic slag piles of Greenwood, B.C. are determined to voice their fears over carcinogens that could be released if a new mining proposal moves forward. Although the call for public input on the permit has closed, local Mary Jane Prutton said that the company’s initial presentation did not give enough information for the residents to understand the full implications of the proposal and they want to be heard.   “It’s not that everybody is against industry at all,” said Prutton. “It’s about the repercussions of reopening that claim. In Trail they are removing their slag and they are hitting pockets of sulfur in it. (A neighbour’s son) was also listing a number of possible carcinogens that were not mentioned at the meeting here in Greenwood. This is right in everybody’s backyard. What are they going to open up? The dust from that is going to settle, and the dust has carcinogens in it and it’s going to settle on our properties.”   Prutton said that futher concerns are the impact on air quality once the slag starts to be broken up, what roadways are being used to truck the slag, and the risk of chemicals leaching into the nearby Boundary Creek.   “There are a lot of people who have something to say about it,” said Prutton. “There was very little information that came out at that meeting. It was just enough to get everybody all in an uproar, but not really informative.”   In October Greenwood Solar Systems BC Ltd. presented to the community their plans to develop a solar production facility in the small city. This facility would use slag mined from the piles near Anaconda which would then be broken down to remove precious metals and then the remnants used to make solar panels. The company, primarily headed by Joe Falkosky, revised a previously approved mining permit to alter the volume of mining proposed and resubmitted it to the Ministry of Forest, Mines and Lands.   The permit request was provided to the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary’s Planning and Development Committee for comment before final approval, and an ad from the Ministry was placed in the local paper for public input. According to Mark Andison, director of planning for the RDKB, they have very little control over mining activity and that there is no requirement for an environmental assessment under provincial rules. Andison also said that the planning committee did not receive any information from the public meeting.   “We got the referral from the mines branch in mid-November and the planning and development committee passed a resolution to support the Falkosky application,” said Andison. “We’re not approving the application or the process. They ask us to look at the application from the perspective of the regional district’s bylaws and policies. In electoral area E we don’t have any bylaws. Even if we did, the regional district is restricted from regulating mining activity.”

Prutton will be putting a meeting together of the Anaconda area ratepayers association in the New Year to make a presentation to the City of Greenwood who is a part owner in the slag in hopes of having some impact on the process.