Donkin Coal Environmental Problems

They arrived, then left us…with significant environmental risks

Open Statement to Nova Scotia Environment

A local resident registered a complaint with Nova Scotia Environment (NSE). Two additional residents also registered complaints with Nova Scotia Environment regarding noise levels.

Eight months later and the adverse noise levels from the Donkin mine continues to affect local residents in the communities of Donkin, Port Morien, Homeville, South Head and Waddens Cove.

TIMELINE

One year ago, Donkin mine experienced an underground methane fire. To increase the efficiency of diluting methane out of the mine, the Donkin mine replaced the existing fans with two larger ventilation fans without installing the supplied silencers.

October 2, 2019
Local resident registers noise complaint with Nova Scotia Environment.

October 9, 2019
Nova Scotia Environment states that the noise source is the mine's intake fans for the exhaust system.

January 6 & 7, 2020
Nova Scotia Environment receives two additional noise complaints from local residents.

January 31, 2020
Nova Scotia Environment investigates, acknowledges intensity of the noise levels at a significant distance from the mine site. Nova Scotia Environment states that Donkin mine didn't install the supplied silencers for the ventilation fans.

March 19, 2020
Instead of installing the supplied silencers, the Donkin mine proposed to build a wall of four shipping containers in front of ventilation fans.

April 29, 2020
The four shipping containers are installed. Unfortunately, shipping containers are unsuccessful in mitigating the adverse noise levels.

June 14, 2020
Instead of investigating in greater detail or requesting successful final mitigation from the Donkin mine, Nova Scotia Environment issues the following decision statement:

  • "The Department has no regulatory authority to take additional action at this time."

A SIGNIFICANT EFFECT

  • "A significant effect to noise levels is defined as a measurable local impact attributable to the Project that is identified through noise monitoring that exceeds regulatory requirements, or by repeated concerns expressed by area residents."

SUMMARY

Noise attenuation over distance has not spared local residents from continued harmful sound levels, a request is made that responsible authorities ensure that measures are taken to mitigate the adverse noise levels.

RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. Regarding provincial noise level guidelines, the Nova Scotia Environment decision highlights that the present environmental noise guidelines are out-dated and put community health at risk.

    A review, an update, and signed approval of the provincial noise guidelines is warranted for serious consideration.

  2. If Nova Scotia Environment requires Health Canada's "Percent Change in Acoustic Environment" guidelines included in the environmental assessment process, why then does Nova Scotia Environment refuse to recognize a Federal expert authority?

    A policy review is recommended.

  3. A recommendation that Nova Scotia Environment recognizes the harmfulness of low frequency energy associated with mine ventilation systems.

  4. Nova Scotia Environment becomes familiar with adjustable dampers and variable frequency drives associated with mine ventilation air management systems.