Sunday, June 5, 2016

Business must clean-up its own mess

About four years ago, there began the reclamation of tar ponds in Sydney, Nova Scotia. The cost of this process fell solely on the taxpayer, the company no where in sight.

A similar situation exists in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, in the former Giant Mine. Reports make no mention who will bear the cost of the clean-up. We may presume it will be the taxpayer.

Any business that harms the environment must post a bond sufficient to pay for all damage occurred during the operation and for its clean-up should operations cease. 

That is not the case with the Alberta oil industry where the bonds posted are grossly inadequate. One day, the Alberta taxpayer, and by extension the rest of us, will pay to repair the enormous damage being currently inflicted.


Between 1962 and 1970, subsidiary companies of Reed International dumped 9000 kilograms of mercury into the Wabagoon-English River system to the severe detriment of the people of Grassy Narrows First Nation. In 1985, the company along with the federal and provincial governments made a one-time compensation payment of $16.67 million.

The problem persists in that fish from these waters are still contaminated with mercury. The people are ill with mercury poisoning. Again the perpetrator is no longer on the scene and all costs now borne by the taxpayer.

Again we ask -- Why was the company not forced to remain on the scene until the problem was totally resolved, the waters totally cleared of their pollution? Why were any governments involved at all in the compensation and subsequent costs persisting to this day? It was a private problem again turned into a public burden.

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