Mine Project that Threatens Manitoba’s Largest Aquifer Needs Review, Not a Rubber Stamp

August 13, 2020

Treaty 1 Territory, Winnipeg MB - Manitoba Liberals are raising concerns that the Pallister PCs are going to skip essential environmental procedures and rubber-stamp the approval of a huge frack sand mine in the RM of Springfield that could pollute the province's largest aquifer.

The Vivian Sands Project is a proposed sand facility mine project being built in the Rural Municipality of Springfield. It is supposed to pull 3.5-million tons of sand a year out of the ground, which the company's CEO said will be used mostly in fracking.

Manitoba Liberals say they have many serious concerns about the project after residents in the area have reached out to express fears about the lack of safety and environmental procedures by the company, CanWhite Sands Corp.

Residents' concerns include the fact that bore holes, which should have been properly sealed, have been left open for a year; signage and fencing has been poor; identifying and required mine claim tags are missing; there are no warning for silica exposure and no coverings to prevent sand stockpiles from exposure to wind.

Manitoba Liberals say the Pallister government needs to review the plant and the mine at the same time and to have a full Clean Environment Commission Assessment of the project.

"Given the scale of this project, and the possible impacts on health and the risk of permanent and irreparable pollution to Manitoba's largest aquifer, we can't be cutting corners," said Dougald Lamont, Manitoba Liberal Leader and MLA for St. Boniface. "We are calling for a full Clean Environment Commission Assessment of the Vivian Sands Project."

Because the mine would pump sand and water up from the ground and then return the water, environmental scientists say there is a risk of contamination of groundwater as well as the Brokenhead River and Lake Winnipeg. The aquifer covers much of south-eastern Manitoba.

"The PCs need to understand that to build a strong and sustainable mining industry in Manitoba, health, safety and the environment can't be an afterthought," said Jon Gerrard, Manitoba Health Critic and MLA for River Heights.

The Vivian Sand Processing Facility's Environment Act Proposal is open for comments from concerned citizens until Aug 25th, 2020. Comments can be emailed directly to Jennifer Winsor at jennifer.winsor@gov.mb.ca.

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