An Update on the Proposed Teck Oil Sands Mine: An Interview with Gillian Chow-Fraser of CPAWS NAB

November 28, 2019
By: admin

An Update on the Proposed Teck Oil Sands Mine An Interview with CPAWS NAB's Gillian Chow-Fraser

CPAWS Communication Coordinator, Gillian Kerr sat down with Boreal Program Manager Gillian Chow-Fraser. She has had a busy year with the proposed oil sands mine up near Wood Buffalo National Park. We know our audience wants to know more.

GK: Thanks for taking the time to chat Gillian. There has been a lot going on this past year with the proposed Teck mine in Northern Alberta. Can you tell us a bit about it and what CPAWS concerns are?

Gillian C-F: Certainly, if approved, the proposed Teck Frontier Oil Sands Mine would be 290 km2 – the largest open pit oil sands mine in North America. There are a number of serious concerns. For one the proposed project is just 30km south from Wood Buffalo National Park, Canada’s largest National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site.[C1] The park has faced significant degradation recently and a decline in the health of the Peace Athabasca Delta.  We know that a lot of these impacts are actually coming from outside of the park. Industrial Development upstream of the Athabasca River has negative ecological impacts. The impacts of a new oil sands mine could potentially be irreversible.

GK: That is a large project. What are some of your other concerns?

Gillian C-F: Yes it is. There are many things that make the park really important such as being used by almost a million migratory birds, birds that actually fly over where the proposal project would be. One of the migratory bird species we are worried about are the endangered Whooping Cranes. The mine would change the landscape significantly, introducing tailing ponds and processed water. These can be lethal to birds that land on site. The environmental conditions proposed by Teck have not been proven to be effective at keeping birds away.

GK: Gillian that is disturbing. I understand that in July, 2019 a 1300 page Report of the Joint Review Panel: Teck Resources Limited Frontier Oil Sands Mine Project[C2]  acknowledged a number of these issues, including that there will be significant environmental impacts. So why is it still being proposed?

Gillian C-F: Yes the report presented a long list of adverse environmental impacts and impact on indigenous communities. The report very clearly states these impacts will occur if the mine is built, but they still found the project in the Public interest. We think that it’s actually  more in the Public’s interest to be saving these healthy and healthy ecosystems and protecting these animals in the species that use this area and as well as the communities that depend on a healthy Athabasca River.

GK: CPAWS has had a campaign to encourage Canadian’s to send their comments into the federal government and that comment period ended on Nov. 25th – so what next?

Gillian C-F: We wait for the federal Minister of Environment & Climate Change to either recommend the project or reject it. This should be announced in the next few months. We will continue to follow this process and inform the public. We will continue to monitor if Canada is sticking to our commitments. We encourage Albertans to visit our web page to stay informed and learn how YOU can help[C3] . 

Related Articles of Interest:

CBC Article with Gillian Chow-Fraser, CPAWS NAB:

CBC Article with Nikki Way, Pembina:

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