City of Kamloops Questions Submitted to the Environmental Assessment Office

Section 7.8.2 Background does not sufficiently describe the issues and questions submitted by the City of Kamloops July 11, 2012 letter to the assessment agencies. Ground stability problems in the Aberdeen area are of foremost concern. The following excerpts from the City letter address this issue. 

“The City of Kamloops has existing groundwater and slope stability issues in close proximity to the mine. This groundwater causes concerns with respect to slope stability and is constantly mitigated utilizing a network of more than 100 piezometers controlled through 30 dewatering wells operated by the City. Both the piezometers and the dewatering wells are monitored generally weekly by the City and some critical wells are hard wired to the City's SCADA system allowing for continuous monitoring. 

Additionally, alarms are set up for the piezometers to detect piezometric pressures which dip or rise sharply. All dewatering wells have backup power in place or have hookups for backup generators in the event of power failure. Some wells pump a few hours per week while others pump continuously. As noted above, there is also a continuous alarm system for the critical dewatering wells and a weekly alarm generated for wells where it is assessed that their failure for a short period of time would be acceptable. The piezometer/ dewatering system is of sufficient importance to the City that it is administered through a formal Risk Management Plan. We will be meeting with representatives of KGHM-Ajax and Orica (their consultant) during early July to discuss this matter in person. However, due to the serious nature of our concerns in this area, I thought it reasonable to repeat in this letter the questions that we will be seeking answers to during our July meeting: 

i) Precipitation falling onto waste rock management facilities will penetrate below the evaporative zone more quickly than if it was falling onto native grasslands. Does the proponent have any information pertaining to what kind of increase in groundwater recharge this will result in and what is the impact on the Aberdeen neighbourhood? 

ii) What is the peak ground acceleration in the Aberdeen area from blasting? We will have our consultants put this information into their stability model to ensure that blasting will not negatively impact stability. 

iii) The air blast tests that were conducted were done during clear sky conditions. What are the results of air blast during adverse weather conditions, specifically conditions that would exacerbate the magnitude of the air blast at the receptors? 

iv) We would like to have advanced notification of the exact timing of future limited scale tests or full-scale test blasts so that we can utilize our existing vibrating wire piezometers to determine if impacts are felt in the areas of slope stability. Please provide us with information (exact date and time) for the next round of test blasting and detailed information about the blast size and how and where it will be conducted. 

v) We understand that a number of boreholes have been drilled around the proposed mine area. In order to help us determine what impact the proposed de-watering activities will have on our Aberdeen neighbourhood, we ask that the proponent provide borehole drilling data including logs, water levels and other hydro-geological information. Our consultants will utilize this information in our groundwater models to determine whether or not there will be impacts to the southwest sector. 

vi) A number of residents in the areas surrounding the proposed mine to the south, west and east rely on groundwater wells for their potable water. As part of the environmental assessment process, the proponent should conduct baseline sampling of those existing wells (including quantity, groundwater level and quality). Please confirm that this will occur. 

vii) At the end of the operations (23 years from now), is the open pit going to be filled with water? If so, what is the impact of that on the groundwater regime specifically in the Aberdeen neighbourhood? 

Once we have received and reviewed the provided information, we will be in a better position to discuss the possibilities of sharing costs for the existing groundwater monitoring network, cost sharing for a permanent solution to the groundwater and stability issues and contingencies for problems which may arise in the future.” 

1. Economic Diversification (or Economic Concentration and Additional Costs to the Community) There are potentially large negative impacts on the health of the forests and other vegetation surrounding the proposed mine (see Section 6.15) resulting from either acute damage to foliage or soil contamination. 

2. What would be the economic costs related to the death of the forest above Aberdeen including factors such as dealing with soil erosion, dealing with surface and subsurface runoff problems, loss of timber value, and changes in property values? 

3. Kamloops presents a more arid image due to the loss of forests from the pine beetle attacks only a few years ago. What would the economic impacts be on tourism should the remaining forest in upper Aberdeen be lost as a result of the construction of the mine? 

Construction of the proposed mine will bring in vast amounts of water, add huge amounts of aerosols to the boundary layer, significantly change wind patterns in and around the site, and most probably lead to increased fog frequencies on the Coquihalla Highway and more frequent traffic disruptions due to blowing and drifting snow (see Section 8.3). 

4. What are the economic costs to the City of Kamloops resulting from increased slowdowns and interruptions to the movement of people and goods into the city from its southern approaches, namely the Coquihalla Highway, Highway 5A and Lac Le Jeune Road? 

5. What are the economic costs to the community health care and policing budgets associated with higher traffic accident rates resulting from lower visibilities and poorer traction on the Coquihalla and other highways?