Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - November 14, 1970, Lethbridge, Alberta
SHOP DOWNTOWN Pre Solurdoy, November 14, WO THE IETHBRIDGE HERALD DURING THE DOWNTOWN BUSINESSMEN'S ASSN. Regulations may add more fresh fuel on northern environment controversy OTTAWA (CP) Impend- ing federal regulations may simply heap fresh fuel on the controversy among commer- cial interests, scientists and conservationists about protec- tion of Canada's delicate northern environment The new regulations are Wiled as guides on what any- one, especially mineral lease- holders, can and should do in the process of harvesting northern resources. They have been based in part on the latest report com- piled for Northern Develop- ment Minister Jean Chretien by representatives of conserv- ationists, the oil and mining industries and university sci- entists. But, even before the regula- tions are in force, there is emerging a considerable con- flict on the value of the report and of the regulations. An acknowledged weakness is that research has barely begun on flie impact of mod- ern mineral exploitation on the northern any impact by man for that matter. MAY HAVE EllREV "We had to be arbitrary in some cases due to lack of data and research, so we probably have erred on the side of said J. K. Naysmith, chief of the water, forest and lands division of the department of northern development. R. C. Passmore, executive director of the Canadian Wild- life Federation, attacked the regulations as limited solely to mineral exploration, leav- ing development inadequately policed. He has written Mr. Chre- tien, contending that the min- ister's study of northern land use was "an exercise in futil- ity." Members were unable to go where they wanted and in- vestigate sites of environmen- tal damage. Mr. Passmore was a member of the study whose second report is in Mr. Chre- tien's hands, signed by all participants. Informants said the report finds that the extent of dam- age from oil and gas explora- tion is not as great as some believed. Mr. Pessmore said that should be read with the understanding that the mem- bers were not permitted to see erosion and other damage in hilly or mountainous ter- rain. The new regulations provide for exploration zones to be set up later in which the condi- tions governing mineral explo- ration are to be specified in individual permits. LAWS TOO GENERAL A main criticism is that they are limited to the explo- ration stages. Mr. Passmore feels the re- sult will be that years-old oil and gas conservation regula- tions and various mining slat- Soviet paper raps scum in Canada MOSCOW (Renter) Current events in Canada show that re- actionary circles have used the internal political situation to step up their activities, the Comnmnisl party newspaper Pravda says. "It is alarming that among champions of Canadian-style McCartbyism there are press organs such as the newspaper Globe and Mail, claiming re- spectability a.nd' a special posi- tion among the bourgeois Cana- dian the short article said II added drat "Fascist, emi- grant evidently finding ths present situation more fa- vorable than ever, began to stir. "Their hooligan anti-Commun- ist, anti-Soviet actions, and their malicious coarse voices sound in unison with local ardent reac- tionaries.'' Pravda did not make clear to what groups if was referring, but did mention what it called a recent, anti-Soviet exhibition in Toronto. "Such actions by lliemselves are not new in it said, "but they lake on quite another coloring when they are earned out, as in the particular case of this exhibition, with lite knowl- edge and Messing of the author- ities." The article did not refer to the recent kidnappings in Quebec province or Ifl the War Measures Act invoked by the Canadian government. utes will be the governing leg- islation at the final stages. "I of nothing in them that specifically instructs on the treatment lo be given the he said. Government officials a c-' knowledge that oil and gas regulations are mainly aimed at conservation of the miner- als rather than control over the environment. "They are terribly general and give no instructions on how to build roads or pipe- lines in leased Mr. Passmore said. Dr. H. W. Woodward, chief of the oil and mineral division of the northern development department, maintains that alt land use will be regulated irrespective of whether it is for mineral exploration, ex- ploitation, movement of vehi- cles or construction of roads and pipelines. However, he said there is no coverage in the new regula- tions or the oil and gas regu- lations of environmental dam- age in transporting oil and other minerals to market. SEES CLEAR FIELD To Mr. Passmore this spells a clear field for pipeline build-' ers to act as they see fit, re- gardless of long-term conse- quences to the environment and inhabitants. "We haven't done a damn bit of looking into the pipe- line's potential for he said. The study group members had wanted to study erosion in hilly and mountainous lands where geophysical ex- ploration has taken place. In- stead of a proposed two-week tour, the group had to settle for 2% days because they were told proper transporta- tion was unavailable. "In the Peel Plateau and Bichardson Mountain areas of the Yukon there nave been se- rious erosional problems from seismic Mr, Passmore said. Seismic lines, ranging from 15 to feet wide with points along them up to 100 feet wide, run for miles across the Arctic, They are the visible marks of the passage of men and heavy equipment seeking oil. Still unknown in the envi- ronmental debate is the extent o! damage resulting from the disturbance of the top cover- ing of the northern perma- frost, the feet deep layer of permanently frozen ground. The top covering insulates the permafrost from short but periodically intense summer heat. Its removal can result in thawing of the permafrost, runoff of the water and conse- quent sinking of the soil, GROUND REGENERATES Government scientists eon- tend that the seismic lines may he less a problem than they seem. J. A. Heginbottom, a federal government scientist vtlm has walked miles of seismic lines investigating environmental damage, cited examples where sinkage is only spotty and ground cover regenerates to insulate the permafrost. For a year, Mr. Hcginbol- ton has been conducting re- search as part of a project designed to give a better pic- ture of what happens to the northern environment when men and machines tear up or strip off the top covering. He said that moving equip- ment over untamed areas re- sults in some thawing; over burned areas the thawing is deeper and over areas where top cover is stripped off com- pletely the thawing is consid- erable. But the erosion danger is confined to steep slopes laced with spring-runoff stream beds. More important is the danger that, deep thaws oyrr several years may undermine 3 slope, causing earl.lt slides. A prime exhibit is a 12-mile firebreak bulldozed around the Arctic community of Inu- vik in the Mackenzie River delta in 1968. Animal control serum sought BOSTON (AP) Colorado State University has received to develop a serum to control a "pet population explo- sion" in the United Stales be- cause birth control pills aren't working on animals. The Ani- mnl Rescue League of Boston says the grant announced Thursday is to continue study >n a contraceptive vaccination or use oil male or female dogs. A one-fool-dccp trench the width of four bulldozer blades now lias become 15 to 20 feet deep, a gully pointed out to visitors as a man-made bar- rier to passage oC migrating game. NO ANSWliKS YET Mr. Heginbottom said this depth has occurred only in a few sections of the firebreak. At other places. Hie sinkage is only a foot. And scraping off tha top cover, he maintains, is far more serious than churning it up by the traffic of men and machines. It results in deeper permafrost t h a w i n g. The greater the depth of thawing, the greater the danger of sin- kage. Mr. Heginbottom says no final answers are available yet. His project has been going only 12 months and he expects another two years to pass before he can wind it up. Meanwhile, other scientists are experimenting with var- ious tracked vehicles to deter- mine what damage they do to the permafrost insulation. Oil companies have com- bined to build a test pipeline to check the ef- fects of pumping hot oil in all weathers over tiie permafrost. They claim to have shown that the hot-oil line can be insulated to avoid melting the permafrost. They say it can be built above ground or bur- ied so as not to impede move- ment of game or endanger the countryside from spills through broken lines caused by heaving ground. The buried sections of the Inuvik test line lie in a thick gravel pad as insulation. It has yet to be demonstrated what happens to the terrain in hauling tons of gravel across the muskeg that coals the per- mafrost areas. Tile whole Inuvik test has nearly a year to run before the planned 18-month trial is completed. 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