Mining Commissioner Hearings by Concerned Citizens of Penobsquis, September 12, 2012
The Concerned Citizens of Penobsquis regrets that most of them are withdrawing their current complaint before New Brunswick’s Mining Commission relating to issues of subsidence up to July 15th, 2010. Since losing their well water in 2004, citizens of Penobsquis have faced numerous hurdles to obtain justice. While issues related to lost water in wells and springs were resolved in June, (after 8 years of attempts to hold PotashCorp responsible), issues related to mining subsidence damages to homes and properties have remained before the New Brunswick Mining Commissioner. Experts have been impossible to source due to conflicts of interest or cost — even the cost of the transcript of the hearing has precluded the group from obtaining a copy for their own use. Repeated requests to the Commissioner to seek third party advice of his own have been turned down at the hearing.
The Concerned Citizens of Penobsquis would like to thank the numerous groups and individuals that have assisted them and donated to their cause. Without these groups and individuals there is no way we could have come as far as we have. We acknowledge though, that even with this substantial assistance, obstacles have been just too great to overcome.
There are several other ongoing impacts that the Mine is having on citizens of Penobsquis and the group is committed to continuing to address these and the subsidence issues. While the mine admits openly to the subsidence they are causing, and employees admitted under oath that the water table is a foot closer to the surface, CCP recognizes that they have not connected the damages they are facing and the subsidence damage. Unfortunately under the current law the burden of proof has been forced upon them. CCP is relieved that those that may be impacted by the operations at PotashCorp’s new mine will now be more protected as the government has made it a requirement that PotashCorp will have to prove they are not at fault. CCP believes this reverse onus should be applied to ALL mining operations within New Brunswick and would like to call upon the government to do so. CCP would like to also call upon the government to make transcripts available to all New Brunswicker’s for any public hearings in the future. If hearings are truly public, in this digital era, it should be easy for all public transcripts to be accessible to all New Brunswicker’s. Other hearings provide free transcripts accessible on-line, and the CCP is puzzled at the government’s inability to do so in this case. No group of regular New Brunswicker’s should be forced to face damage at the hands of a large corporation, with no way to source the required legal counsel, expert witnesses, or even a copy of the transcript of the proceedings. [Emphasis added]