The Federal Court of Canada has ordered the federal government to provide data on one of Canada’s largest sources of pollution—mine tailings and waste rock from mining operations throughout the country.

The government must immediately begin publicly reporting mining pollution data from 2006 onward to the National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI). The decision describes the government’s pace as “glacial” and chastises the government for turning a “blind eye” to the issue and dragging its feet for “more than 16 years.”

A lawsuit was filed in Federal Court in 2007 on behalf of MiningWatch Canada and Great Lakes United by Ecojustice (formerly Sierra Legal Defence Fund).

Since 1998, the U.S. government has required mining companies to report all pollutants under the American equivalent of the NPRI, the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI). In 2005, the 72 mines reporting to the TRI released more than 500 million kilograms of mine tailings and waste rock – accounting for 27 per cent of all U.S. pollutants reported. With yesterday’s court decision, pollution data from Canada’s 80 metal mining facilities will now similarly have to be reported under the NPRI.

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