On April 13, the Hamlet of Iglulik’s Working group with the Mary River Mine raised some questions with regard to concerns related to climate change.
Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) has recommended to the Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB) that Baffinland use distillate fuels as opposed to heavy fuels in Canada’s Exclusive Economic Zone in response to a written question from the Hamlet of Sanirajak.
“We know that the North is warming up way faster than the south and the rest of the world,” said Peter Ivalu, chair of the Iglulik’s Working Group with the Mary River Mine during the Nunavut Impact Review Board Baffinland Phase Two Hearing in Iqaluit on April 13.
“Permafrost is melting and project infrastructure for Phase Two in the mine will most likely be affected.”
Ivalu asked ECCC, on how safe the project is for the environment and how they could support it “irregardless of risks associated with permafrost thaw?”
ECCC in response said they are going to wait for the final NIRB report before making a decision on the project.
“We cannot say overall whether the project is safe for the environment, furthermore (ECCC) is the decision-maker on this project and the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada is the responsible minister,” said ECCC Environmental Assessment Officer Anna Graham, remotely at the hearing.
“When we reach the decision-making phase of this project, that is when we’ll form a decision on whether this project should proceed or not, at this stage we are still collecting evidence and listening to the views, stories and responses to questions during this public hearing.”
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) also raised concerns around emission control areas in the Arctic and at the Mary River Mine on April 14. Transport Canada explains an emission control area as a means to reduce sulfur emissions from ships. The global limit on the sulfur content of fuel is 0.5 per cent, however specific areas designated as Sulfur Emission Control Areas have more stringent regulations.
Currently Canadian waters below the 60th parallel are part of Canada’s emission control area “and includes domestic waters out to the 200-mile limit of the exclusive economic zone,” said Anita Gudmundson, regional manager with environmental services, Transport Canada.
“Black carbon reductions of up to 80 per cent can be achieved by mandating this feasible switch. Some have suggested by not having this type of clean fuel mandate in the predominantly Indigenous Arctic, like emission control areas south of 60 degrees in Canada, is a form of environmental racism. Shipping fuel use above and below 60 degrees (should) be addressed urgently,” stated Andrew Dumbrille with the WWF.
“When will Transport Canada adopt similar shipping control measures in the Arctic and for the Mary River Project as in the rest of Canada?”
“Canada submitted a joint application with France and the United States to the International Maritime Organization to designate the emission control area,” explained Gudmundson.
“Since the United States was not in favor of an emission control area that expanded into the Arctic as it would have covered Alaska, the application was submitted to waters south of 60.”
She further explained given the more widely spread out population and smaller amount of people, that having heavier fuels in the Arctic won’t have as much of an impact on human health in the North.
“The emission control area is based on the concentration of emissions in populated areas of Canada, since the Arctic has a small population which is spread out, and does not have the volume of shipping traffic to support the concentration of emissions that would impact human health, designating it as an emission control area would have little impact.”