MAC: Mines and Communities

Group says proposed N.S. quarry will hurt environment, tourism and fishery

Published by MAC on 2006-08-04

Group says proposed N.S. quarry will hurt environment, tourism and fishery

Canadian Press: JAMES KELLER

4th August 2006

HALIFAX (CP) - A proposed quarry in southwestern Nova Scotia would hurt the environment, the local fishery and the region's quality of life, a group opposed to the project said Friday.

The organization, known as the Stop the Quarry Coalition, is opposed to a U.S. company's plans to locate a basalt rock quarry in Digby Neck, N.S.

The quarry, owned by Bilcon for Whites Point, would cover roughly 150 hectares along the Bay of Fundy, and produce about two million tonnes of basalt every year for use on highways in New Jersey and New York.

At a news conference Friday, which included Liberal and New Democrat members of the legislature, the coalition condemned Bilcon's environmental impact assessment as flawed and incomplete.

The assessment concluded there will be no significant harm to the area, but the group said there is little evidence to support that claim.

"This (environmental study) has badly failed to convince us that the project is harmless," group spokesman Don Mullin told the news conference.

The group outlined a long list of ways the quarry would hurt surrounding communities.

A lobster fishermen told the news conference his business would suffer. Residents said their peaceful way of life and tourist industry would be affected and environmentalists explained how blasting at the quarry could hurt marine life, such as the endangered North Atlantic right whale.

Tony Kelly, whose community of Little River, N.S. is near the proposed quarry site, said the effects would be far-reaching.

"The point that we want to make, and make over and over in large letters, is this is not only a beautiful place to visit, it's a beautiful place to live," said Kelly, before showing a video highlighting the lives of local residents.

"It's a very active and vibrant community, but not with a rock quarry in your backyard."

The group has submitted its concerns to the panel reviewing the project. The deadline for such submissions has been extended until next Friday.

The company defended the proposal and the findings of the environmental impact assessment.

Bilcon spokesman Paul Buxton said the proposal falls within existing regulations, and the company has come up with ways to deal with any harmful consequences.

"This is not an LNG plant, this is not a nuclear power station, and . . . the results or possible effects are going to be so minor," said Buxton in an interview.

"We have one group who is basically saying that we don't want a quarry under any circumstances at Whites Point, and they'd probably go further than that and say we don't want one in Digby county and we don't want one in the province of Nova Scotia."

Buxton also said there would be benefits to the local economy through jobs and property taxes.

Harold Theriault, an opposition Liberal who represents the area in the provincial legislature, criticized the project for exporting the rock to the U.S. with little benefit to the province.

His party plans to introduce a private members bill this fall that would keep coastal rocks from the area in Nova Scotia.

"We believe if the door is opened for this to become a gravel pit for the United States, it will be the beginning of the end to a world-class tourist destination," said Theriault.

However, Theriault said regardless of where the material goes, the Whites Point quarry shouldn't go ahead.

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