A week after drawing attention to Quebec because of the presence of reddish waters around its facilities, the Tata Steel mine in Schefferville is again singled out. This time, the company is targeted for allegations of poor environmental practices at one of the mine’s dump sites.
In a complaint lodged on May 18th with Environment Canada and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Innu community of Matimekush-Lac-John reported multiple problems with this open-air site where a variety of wastes are thrown away.
Some allegations of the complaint:
- No structure or pond to retain contact water and leachate from the dump that flows to the Howell River (fish habitat) without filtration or treatment;
- The waste is not burned, but accumulated, and is not confined to a controlled area;
- There are no fences or barriers, many plastic debris around the site and in the fish habitat of Elross Creek;
- Some large industrial waste should be recovered and sent [to Sept-Îles] for treatment or recycling as do other iron mines in Quebec. This waste will encumber and pollute the natural environment for decades after the closure of the mine.
Extracts of the complaint sent by email to NL-CNUE Service – TSMC mine dump
“Everything is thrown out. Metal, wood, plastic,” explains Michel The Hague, a biologist who filed the complaint in collaboration with the council. “There is no sorting of waste,” he adds.
“And through that, there is a lot of hazardous waste. For example, many large containers of used oil that are smashed and from which oil escapes. Industrial fat boilers, batteries, containers of chemicals,” continues The Hague.
According to the biologist, all these products should be sent to Sept-Îles to be decontaminated.
In addition to the lack of structures for filtering or treating, the mine is also criticized for the lack of a fence or barrier that leaves debris exposed to the elements as well as wildlife. The complaint indicates that ten bears have been observed on the site.
Environmental authorities in Newfoundland and Labrador confirm that they have received the complaint and are investigating mining practices.
Tata Steel did not answer our calls.
Support from another community
The community of Uashat mak Mani-Utenam, which has historic ties to that of Matimekush-Lac John, has supported the latter in this matter.
The community band council sent an official letter to Tata Steel and the governments of Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec and Canada. He demands that the mine immediately correct the
environmental damage recently caused by Nitassinan , the great ancestral territory of the Innu.
If a mining company is not ready to meet its obligations to us and to our territory, mining will no longer be welcome on our territory , says chief Mike Mckenzie.
The environmental conduct of Tata Steel is referred to by the community as a lack of respect. The band council argues that the mining company is not investing enough to address these recurring issues.