N.S. approves controversial expansion of existing gypsum mine; opponents upset

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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HALIFAX - Nova Scotia has approved a controversial expansion of a gypsum mine near Avondale, angering residents and environmentalists who oppose the project.
Environment Minister Sterling Belliveau said Thursday that the Fundy Gypsum expansion will be allowed to proceed, with some conditions to protect the environment.
The mine expansion will be limited to 105 hectares, about a third of the 347 hectares the company had requested.
Other conditions require Fundy Gypsum to conduct extensive ground and surface water monitoring, develop a wetland compensation plan and form a community liaison committee.
Belliveau said the company must also protect a 46-hectare conservation area, monitor and protect rare plants, have a plan to reclaim land affected by the mine, and protect a local bat population.
Residents and environmentalists have opposed the project, arguing that it will threaten local water sources, remove wetlands and destroy rare plant and animal species.
The company, a subsidiary of United States Gypsum of Chicago, has said all along that it is running out of gypsum at its two current mine sites at Miller's Creek and Wentworth, and that it needs the expansion to continue operating and employing its 60 workers.
While Fundy Gypsum officials welcomed the decision, those opposed were angry and upset.
"It's just unbelievable," said Raymond Parker, president of the Avon Peninsula Watershed Protection Society. "We just can't go on making decisions like this in Nova Scotia and pretend that everything is OK."
He said the society will be looking for ways to appeal the minister's decision.

Organizations: United States Gypsum, Miller's, Avon Peninsula Watershed Protection Society

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Avondale, Chicago

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