Another Spill at Tata Steel's Iron Mine: Quebec Minister of the Environment Must Take Action

(Quebec City) Following the release of new images confirming another spill by Tata Steel, the Coalition for Better Mining in Quebec (la Coalition pour que le Québec ait meilleure mine) is asking Environment Minister Benoit Charrette to act.

“The Minister of the Environment must send a clear signal: zero tolerance for mining pollution,” insists Ugo Lapointe, co-spokesperson for the coalition and coordinator for MiningWatch Canada.

Christian Simard, co-founder of the coalition and general manager of Nature Quebec, says, “It is absurd to note that this mine has already had at least two spills to its credit, with no real consequences.”

Lapointe adds, “Because of the colour of the water and the extent of impacts over several kilometres, it is clear that the aquatic environment is affected and that environmental laws are not respected. Iron in particular, with other metals, give this red hue.”

Both the federal Fisheries Act and the Quebec Environment Quality Act prohibit the release of such pollutants into the environment.

According to the scientific criteria for the protection of fish and aquatic environments, the iron concentration must not exceed 0.3 mg/l.

Unanswered questions

Organizations are concerned about the lack of information on all pollutants released into the environment. Says Simard, “We are asking the company and the authorities to be transparent and to immediately inform the public about the complete chemical composition of the contaminants involved. This information is essential to assess the impacts on the entire environment.”

This is not Tata Steel’s first spill. An overview of the media coverage and the environmental emergency registry reveals at least two spills in the past year. Lapointe observes, “The images revealed this morning clearly indicate that the tailings site was poorly designed, poorly constructed, and is a conduit for contamination in the environment.”

Zero tolerance for mining pollution

“We need a tightening of standards in Quebec. Above all, the public authorities must set an example and take action when our laws are not respected,” concludes Lapointe.

For more information:

  • Ugo Lapointe, Coalition Québec meilleure mine, MiningWatch Canada, cell 514-708-0134
  • Christian Simard, Coalition Québec meilleure mine, Nature Quebec, cell 418-928-1150