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Arsenic be gone

City says Giant waste is Ottawa's problem

Jorge Barrera
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Oct 05/01) - City council wants the federal government to deal with the Giant Mine arsenic mess once and for all.

The Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, councillors said at a committee meeting on Monday, should find a permanent method of disposing of the close to 250,000 tonnes of arsenic trioxide stored at the mine.

A consultant's report prepared this summer for DIAND suggests freezing the toxic waste contained in huge chambers below ground.

It was only one of several options detailed in the report, but the authors singled it out as the cheapest and least dangerous of four disposal and storage alternatives.

City councillors, however, are not convinced freezing the waste in place is the best way to go.

"We shouldn't be party to any temporary solution," said Coun. Wendy Bisaro.

"It's not enough," said Coun. Alan Woytuik. "We need a permanent solution."

Coun. Kevin O'Reilly said he wants a local body to oversee and pursue an ongoing cleanup to find a permanent solution -- all paid out of Ottawa's wallet.

"If it's simply left to DIAND I'm not sure we'll get that far," said O'Reilly.

Council has hashed out a reply to DIAND's temporary solution.

O'Reilly said the city should have a hand in setting the criteria and sees the creation of a local body as the best way to ensure the project is handled properly.

"Cleanup should be based on a series of principles," said O'Reilly, listing a permanent solution and local contracting opportunities as essential parts of the criteria.

Coun. Ben McDonald said DIAND should restore the above-ground Giant Mine site to better than industrial standards.

Currently, 240,355 metric tonnes of arsenic trioxide dust, a waste product from the gold-extraction process used at Giant Mine for decades, sit in 15 huge rock chambers between 24 and 75 metres below the surface.