On August 4, 2014, a mine waste dam in British Columbia, Canada breached, releasing 24.4 million cubic meters of mine waste (or tailings) sludge into the Fraser River watershed, a group of lakes and rivers that bear salmon and sustain the livelihoods of local First Nation communities.
Have you ever seen methane? What about benzene? Or the chemical the gas company adds to make your stovetop gas stink, mercaptan? I asked residents at a Save Porter Ranch meeting in northwest Los Angeles if they had seen the pollution they knew was in their community, pouring down from the SoCal Gas storage facility on the hill behind town.
No one responded.
The newly-minted Paris climate agreement calls for limiting global temperature increase to 2°C, and leaves in the preamble the more aspirational goal shared by many countries of 1.5°C. It’s clear to observers around the world that meeting this goal is going to require steep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and leaving most of the world’s remaining fossil fuels in the ground.
And that includes natural gas, particularly fracked natural gas.
One year ago in August, a mine waste dam failed. The breach sent 24.4 million cubic meters of a liquefied mixture of toxic heavy metals and other chemicals into the Fraser River watershed in British Columbia, Canada. To help prevent further toxic catastrophes, over 3 dozen environmental and social justice groups including Earthworks, Friends of the Earth, and Greenpeace sent a letter today to the United Nations Environment Programme urging the agency to call for global review and regulations to address threats posed by similar dams at existing and proposed mines around the world. As the global authority on environmental protection, UNEP can not only bring much-needed attention to this problem, but also develop international guidelines and assist countries to respond to this growing threat.
The 34 undersigned human rights, environmental and civil society groups in Mexico and around the world, urge you, and all the government institutions responsible for handing out authorizations to the Los Cardones mine, to cancel any existing permits and deny any new ones.