By Letter to the Editor on November 12, 2020.
John Graham wrote a book about about open-pit mining in Virginia. It is well worth reading by all southern Albertans and by Alberta politicians – especially by its premier.
Graham shows what devastation can occur in a small coal mining community where a large coal company comes in to an otherwise content farming community which has hit hard times. There are no jobs, very little income and not much hope. The company begins to blow off the top of Gray Mountain to mine the coal. Suddenly there is work. People are getting money for a good life. Business is booming, Everything looks good. But there is a mysterious malady developing. People are becoming ill for no apparent reason.
To make a long story short, the environment had become polluted because of careless mining procedures. Investigation showed that selenium was being leached into the water supply, thus causing the malady. Corners were cut, regulations were ignored and questionable tactics were used in an effort to cut expenses, and to improve profits. When the coal was gone, so was the company, and the people were back in the same place they were before this all happened. Plus the environment was left a disaster.
Is it a coincidence that Grassy Mountain will also have its top blown off to get to the coal, just as Graham’s Gray Mountain did? In Alberta’s case there is the added danger that selenium (which is found in coal) could cause a similar disaster in Alberta.
The Australian company claims it will ensure that selenium is contained and will not leach into the water supply; but there is enough evidence that this is not likely to be the case. My question is, “What are we going to do about it?” It is well and good that our government will “consult” with the public, but to quote Health Minister Shandro, “Consultation does not mean veto.” To my mind, “consultation” means “we will listen, but we will do what we want to do, despite any objections.” Ho hum! Such is life in present-day Alberta. The Alberta advantage?