Province Issues Statement of Claim Against The Federal Government to Honour Commitment to Clean Up Uranium Mine in Northern Saskatchewan
The Government of Saskatchewan has issued a statement of claim, which calls on the Government of Canada to contribute equally to the cost of cleaning up the Gunnar uranium mine.
The lawsuit, filed on Tuesday, comes after numerous, unsuccessful attempts by the provincial government to work collaboratively with the federal government on the clean-up of the abandoned mine site, located just west of Fond du Lac on the shores of Lake Athabasca.
“After repeated requests to the federal government to honour its joint obligations to the North, to northern and First Nations communities and to the environment, we are left with no choice,” Energy and Resources Minister Bronwyn Eyre said. “We implore the federal government to pay its fair share of continuing remediation work.”
The Government of Saskatchewan has spent more than $125 million on the clean-up of the Gunnar uranium mine site and its associated satellite sites. The total estimated cost of the project is $280 million.
To date, the federal government has provided just $1.13 million. The Memorandum of Agreement signed with the province in 2006 committed to share costs.
In the 1940s, the Government of Canada declared uranium mining to be in the national interest. As a result, it became the only provincial natural resource regulated by the federal government. The Gunnar mine began production in 1955 and was shut down in 1963. Gunnar Mining Limited, the operator of the mine, ceased to exist by the mid-1980s.
As the only federally-regulated provincial natural resource, and an industry that existed exclusively due to the decisions and priorities of the federal government, Minister Eyre says it must provide its equal share of funding for the project.
“The provincial government takes this project, and the environmental remediation of the affected regions, very seriously,” Eyre said. “The federal government agreed to cost-share this project equally, but has since refused to uphold its end of the agreement. Despite the rhetoric by the current federal government about how important the environment and relations with First Nations are, its lack of action to fulfill its obligation demonstrates otherwise.”