Board slams Diavik review
Too many questions left unanswered, says Northern environmental review board

Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

NNSL (Oct 13/99) - A week after the territorial government said the Diavik project has been studied enough, the board responsible for conducting future environmental reviews in the NWT said there are gaping holes in the review of the project.

Last Friday, the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board submitted its comments on the review to federal Minister of the Environment David Anderson.

Shortcomings in the review, known as the comprehensive study report, identified by the board include:

  • the combined impacts of the project and others in the area (known as cumulative effects) were not properly considered
  • the assessment socio-economic impacts of the project was incomplete
  • methods of mining with less environmental impact were not thoroughly examined
  • abandonment and restoration of the mine property was not considered
  • public concerns about the project and the review were not fully addressed
  • the impact of increased traffic on the winter road was not addressed

The scathing report ended with the board advising Anderson, who is responsible for making a decision on the project, "If these issues cannot be satisfactorily resolved, then the Review Board recommends that the Minister consider referring the Diavik Diamonds Project to a panel review."

Research director of the Canadian Arctic Resources Committee Kevin O'Reilly said the board is confirming what his organization has said all along, that the project needs to be put to a panel review.

"We don't believe the minister has any other option," said O'Reilly. "... It's hard to know how you can go back and patch it up at this point in time and that's not one of the legal options open to the minister."

After the Oct. 2 signing of a socio-economic agreement between the government and Diavik, Minister of Resources Wildlife and Economic Development Kakfwi said he would be writing a letter of support for the project to Anderson.

A spokesperson for the regional DIAND office said that because the issue is now in the hands of the environment minister, no DIAND officials here had any comment.

Calls to Diavik and the department of resources wildlife and economic development for comment were not returned by deadline.

Under the terms of the Act that created the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board, the minister must consult with it and "must fully and impartially consider any views presented in making any decision on the CSR."