Yellowknife's Giant Mine sitting on enough arsenic to kill world

Posted Apr 16, 2014 by Nora Meszaros
Barren tundra, "nothingness," frigid space – just some of the ways most Canadians would describe the northern territories.
It may be time to re-evaluate those assumptions, especially about the Northwest Territories, who currently sit on enough arsenic to take out the human population.
Not once, but a few times over:
Yellowknife’s Giant Mine site is sitting on 237,000 tonnes of arsenic, enough to wipe out the human population, Vice reports. The majority of the poisonous carcinogen is sitting below the old gold mine just outside of the city, according to Vice.
Between the 1940s and 1951, mining continued and an average of 22,000 lbs of arsenic production a day took place unregulated until 1951, Vice reports. While the products were under regulation shortly after, it was not until 2004 that the company shut down and “handed the depleted mine back to the federal government along with loads of arsenic trioxide dust,” according to Vice.
Recent reports from Desmog Blog revealed that the gold mine arsenic is slowly leaking into Great Slave Lake through Back Bay in Yellowknife. The lake water was rendered “undrinkable by pollution” at the time through the mining industry, Desmog Blog reports.
Even still, a report from the CBC in January was “not clear” on how 31 employees working the cleanup site were exposed to the highly toxic arsenic.
President of the Workers Safety Compensation Commission of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut Dave Grundy told the CBC that arsenic does not make people sick right away — concerns lie in long-term effects on workers. “There’s a disconnect somewhere where these people are getting exposure and they’re not supposed to,” Grundy told CBC News.
[url=http:// t=_blank]According to Vice, the current plan of action to fix the problem is by freezing the 237,000 tonnes of arsenic trioxide underground. CBC News confirmed that “the cleanup plan is to freeze the dust in place, and keep it frozen indefinitely.”
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AADNC) launched The Giant Mine Remediation Project “to protect human health and safety, and the environment,” through “long-term containment and management of the arsenic trioxide waste.”
Confirming the tonnes of arsenic under The Giant Mine, AADNC said its main initiatives are to:
• Minimize safety risks for the public, as well as workers;
• Minimize the contaminants released from the site to the environment around it;
• “Remediate” the site to instill confidence in the community;
• Remain cost-effective.
Despite the final goal leaning to cost-effectiveness, the cleanup costs for the arsenic-contaminated mine site will be “close to a billion dollars,” the CBC reports. In the final stages of an environmental review, the cleanup plan will cost twice as much as it would to remediate the gold mine, according to the CBC.