Situation at the Caribou Mine requires immediate response from Premier Higgs, and legislative hearings into contaminated site management in New Brunswick

Conservation Council of New Brunswick

Attention News Editors—Dr. Louise Comeau, Co-interim Executive Director of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick (CCNB) issued the following statement with respect to the Caribou Mine contaminated site. She is available for interviews:

The Conservation Council calls on Premier Higgs to immediately mandate:

1. The Department of Energy and Resource Development and Environment and Local Government urgently commission a reclamation assessment at Caribou Mine and use this engineering and environmental assessment to develop and implement a remediation plan at the Caribou Mine. The assessment and plan must be made public.

2. The Public Accounts Committee to hold hearings to determine the current implementation plan and status of all recommendations made in 2019 and 2022 Auditor General (AG) Reports on Contaminated Sites. These reports clearly show that:

  • The province is not accurately recording contaminant site liabilities, including the Caribou Mine because engineering studies from the early 2000s are not being updated. The 2022 AG report indicated that in 2021-2022, the province recorded a liability for contaminated sites of $50.8 million from 75 sites. The Caribou Mine alone, based on a 2021 company statement, carries a remediation liability of at least $49 million ($36.7 million USD), with the province responsible for at least two-thirds of this cost (e.g., for at least $32.3 million). The AG recommended engineering studies be updated every five years (Recommendation 7.22, 2019 report).
  • There is a lack of transparency in public reporting on contaminated sites and there is no whole of government coordination for the management of contaminated sites (Recommendations 2.76, 2.77, and 2.78, 2019 AG report).

3. The Public Accounts Committee should investigate the use of tax-payer-backed environmental liability and contaminated site agreements to ensure companies are liable for their contamination. A company that is only profitable because it externalizes social and environmental costs to taxpayers, is not a sustainable operation worthy of taxpayer support.

To arrange an interview, contact:

Louise Comeau | [email protected] | 506.238.0355.

Conservation Council of New Brunswick