St. Mary’s council defers to province on derelict mine’s safety

·2 min read

ST. MARY’S—While council for the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s remains alert to public safety threats in the area, it will defer to the provincial government on the question of mine contamination in the community of Goldenville.

In an email to The Journal last week, Warden Greg Wier stated that, “Council is always concerned about potential hazards in our Municipality.”

At the same time, he noted the statement by Executive Director of NS Lands, Donnie Burke, that the risk is ‘very low from a human health perspective.’

Wier was referring to a comment Burke made to the CBC earlier this month about the potential harm to residents of areas known to have operated mines, decades ago, whose arsenic and mercury-permeated tailings could still persist in trace amounts.

In a statement to The Journal last week, Deborah Bayer, spokesperson for the Department of Public Works, reiterated Burke’s conclusion that Goldenville was a safe place to live. “To date, we have conducted sampling … and carried out some risk assessment work … in Goldenville. The primary contaminant is arsenic … bound in a stable form. The human health and ecological risks we’ve seen to date are fairly low.”

Wier also referred to the Conceptual Closure Plan for the Historic Goldenville Tailings Areas submitted to the provincial government by consultants in 2019, which concluded that whatever contamination that exists from previous mining can be managed and diminished.

“Overall, the findings of this investigation provide a basis for developing reclamation strategies on site to reduce the risks associated with arsenic and mercury levels as well as the mitigation of current acidic conditions and potential acidification of tailings in the future,” the report said.

A NS Lands assessment released on July 4 ranked Goldenville at number five on a list of 69 potentially contaminated mine sites dating back to the 1800s. The province had earlier announced plans to clean up the site, but a start date has not yet been confirmed.

Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting