Arsenic battle goes to court
Yellowknife man wants government held responsible for mine pollution

by Jennifer Pritchett
Northern News Services

NNSL (Apr 30/97) - A man who has brought the GNWT and Ottawa to the territorial Supreme Court says they aren't protecting Yellowknifers from the tonnes of arsenic that continues to pour into Back Bay.

"I'm saying that the politicians have failed completely in their responsibility," said David Talbot. "I want them to acknowledge what's going in there."

Talbot has taken the government to court, seeking $1 million that he would like to give to Ecology North for cleanup, as well as $100,000 for he and his family's loss of enjoyment based on the number of years he hasn't been able to fish at Baker Creek.

He had been a sports fisherman with his three children for about 16 years when he started to notice dead fish and birds at Baker Creek.

"Four years ago we went there to fish and we saw that there were dead fish floating at the edge of the water," he said.

"We fished for a long time and we didn't catch anything. This was unusual because it wasn't a difficult place to catch fish."

He has compiled four boxes of data since 1990 in preparation to make his case known.

"I'm not a nut," he said. "I'm not just doing this to nail someone. I've seen people getting cancer and then people taking a blind eye to it."

Talbot is now awaiting the decision of a Supreme Court justice to decide whether or not he has a case against the government.

But he said that regardless of the decision he will find a way to tell people about what he knows.

"I believe what happened with the Exxon Valdez will pale in comparison to what will happen to Great Slave Lake once Giant Mine is flooded (after it closes)," he said.

Talbot said that the NWT Water Board estimates 385,000 tonnes of arsenic is stored underground at Giant Mine.

"I believe that Giant will be gone in five years, and whoever is left in Yellowknife will have to pay, as taxpayers, the billions in cleanup costs," he said.