Neighbours vs. Neighbors

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If good fences make good neighbours, what do selenium-leaching mines make us?

There's a bit of a tussle going on between Canada and the U.S. right now over a series of B.C. mines and their toxic discharge.

Selenium from five coal mines in B.C.'s Elk Valley owned by Teck Resources have had selenium leaching from them into Montana's Kootenai River watershed for decades. Now, at a bilateral meeting in Washington, D.C., diplomats from both countries are deciding where to go from here.

The issue has been a sore spot in Canada-U.S. relations for years — and a lack of cumulative environmental assessments hasn't helped, allowing mine development in the area to continue unabated as though our neighbours weren't ticked off enough already.

Carol Linnitt has been following this kerfuffle — see her story here.

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But wait! There's more! Scroll down for the rest of what we published this week. Imperial Oil Could Face Charges for Violent Flaring Incident in Ontario’s Chemical Valley

By James Wilt

It was just another evening in Sarnia, February 2017, when the apocalyptic flaring began.

Without warning, enormous flames engulfed Imperial Oil’s petrochemical refinery, spewing plumes of smoke into the air. Nearby houses in Aamjiwnaang First Nation and south Sarnia shook and windows rattled. A foul odour overwhelmed the area.

For the next five hours, the night sky was aglow with vivid oranges and yellows. Read more.

10 Handy Facts About Canadian Energy that You Actually Probably Want to Know

By James Wilt

Every day, we’re assailed with dozens of facts and figures about energy issues in Canada: how many jobs or royalties will come from a new pipeline, the annual growth rate of renewables, our per-person energy consumption.

But it’s often tricky to decipher truth from fiction.

That’s where the new 176-page encyclopedic report by veteran earth scientist and expert in coal and unconventional fuels David Hughes is meant to come in. Read more.

B.C. Grants Cermaq Permit to Apply 2.3 Million Litres of Pesticide to Clayoquot Sound Salmon Farms

By Judith Lavoie

The province has given the go-ahead for Cermaq Canada to use up to 2.3 million litres of a pesticide called Paramove 50 to remove sea lice from fish at 14 salmon farms in Clayoquot Sound.

Opponents fear the mixture of hydrogen peroxide, surfactants and other chemicals will harm other species and weaken the immune system of farmed fish, making them more likely to contract diseases that could infect wild fish.
Read more.

How Likely is a Canadian Oil-by-Rail Boom?

By James Wilt

In the weeks since Kinder Morgan’s announcement that it was suspending all “non-essential spending” on the proposed Trans Mountain pipeline, we’ve seen yet another round of concerns about a spike in the shipping of oil by rail.

The argument goes that failing to build Trans Mountain means that excess oil from Alberta will just be shipped to markets by rail — a more costly option with the potential for fiery spills and explosions in the middle of communities, like what happened in Lac-Mégantic back in 2013.

But there are two major issues with such analysis: 1) there’s not enough rail capacity to substitute for pipelines; and 2) transporting oil by rail wouldn't be nearly as unsafe as it currently is if government updates its rules and enforcement. Read more.

Ancient Glass Sponge Reef Smothered By Salmon Farm Waste in B.C.

By Judith Lavoie

As Tavish Campbell dropped his remote camera into the water close to a salmon farm in the Broughton Archipelago, his heart sank.

Earlier in the day, during a dive, he was awestruck by the sight of an ancient, rare and previously undiscovered glass sponge reef in the water off Port Hardy, but now he was staring into the barren ruin of a second glass sponge reef.

“The one was totally alive and vibrant and healthy and the other one was a wasteland, covered in brown sediment,” Campbell told DeSmog Canada. Read more.

More Ducks, Hungrier Bears: Climate Change is Altering Arctic Arithmetic

By Jimmy Thomson

The effects of climate change can be complex and unpredictable. For one species of Arctic duck, the result is a tense standoff between population growth and decline.

A new study has shown the warming Arctic and earlier spring melt is in one way a boon to the birds: it gives them access to their underwater feeding grounds sooner. That means more females can fatten up, and possibly lay more eggs as well.

But the dwindling ice also brings more polar bears ashore in search of food. The bears prefer hunting seals, but that hunt requires sea ice. Once ashore, a few bears can devastate an entire colony, eating all of its eggs in a matter of days.

The product has the eider population sitting on a knife’s edge. Read more.

Judith Lavoie's story on rare glass sponge reefs being smothered by salmon farms was reprinted in The Tyee, and got a conversation going over there about corporations and their environmental externalities. Editor-in-Chief Emma Gilchrist is off to train Liber Ero fellows this week! These conservation scientists are some of the country's brightest, and she'll be helping them communicate their findings to the public. Are you friends with this guy? Please make him go away from our office. Maybe give him this newsletter signup link? I dunno. Maybe that'll work, maybe not. It's getting weird, though. Like... this is a place of business. Seems like he could use a good newsletter to read. Copyright © DeSmog Canada, All rights reserved.
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