The recent harvesting closure of beaches in Toquaht Bay on the west coast of Vancouver Island due to widespread metal contamination from tailing ponds is further proof of the validity of the BC Shellfish Association’s opposition to the proposed Raven Mine Project overlooking Baynes Sound.
This closure not only affects recreational users of the beach, but has closed the Toquaht First Nation shellfish farm in the area and all wild shellfish harvesting.
This heavy metal contamination of groundwater, soil and sediment, from excessive levels of arsenic, cobalt and selenium, is listed as a cause of the closure by the operation of an iron/ore mine that closed over 40 years ago in 1968. Comparatively, heavy metal outputs from coal mining activities similarly include arsenic, cobalt and selenium to name just a few.
Despite repeated claims by the proponent that there will be no toxic damage to rivers, streams and groundwater leading into Baynes Sound, there are no guarantees, nor indications in their proposal that would satisfy shellfish farmers concerns. Quite the opposite, if the history of coal mining has shown us anything, it’s that it leaves a toxic legacy.
The Raven Mine Project is proposed to be located just five km from the largest shellfish-growing beds in Canada in Baynes Sound on the eastern coast of Vancouver Island.
This is a century-old sustainable food-producing sector that employs over 600 people in rural and coastal communities and accounts for approximately $28 million annually in farm outputs. The potential damage to this farming sector as well as the lively hoods of the many farm families involved in this area should be an essential consideration when compared to an environmentally unsustainable, 16-year coal mining project.
The BC Shellfish Growers Association has launched its Food Not Coal campaign to raise awareness of the threats and educate the public about the potential impacts of a short term coal operation right next door to a world-famous shellfish-growing area.
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— BC Shellfish Growers Association