Pallister Government Allows CANWhite Sands to Run Amok


Don Sullivan – January 22, 2021

CanWhite Sands Corp, an Alberta based company is proposing to build a silica sand processing facility and to extract 1.3.million tonnes of silica sand a year, for the next twenty-four years, near Vivian in southeastern Manitoba.

This company, in my opinion, may have been allowed by the Pallister government to run afoul of at least three, if not four, different Manitoba Acts., once CWS commenced advance mining exploration activities to test their unconventional mining method, staring in 2018.

The First Act that the Pallister government may have allowed CWS to violate, was the Manitoba Groundwater and Well Water Act, under the corresponding regulation it explicitly prohibits the mixing of sandstone aquifer water with carbonate aquifer water.

This may have occurred when CWS began drilling wells and started pumping potable water and silica sand using their triple tube airlift pump wells for their advance exploration mining activities.

The use of this triple tube air lift pump wells was explained by the CEO and President of CanWhite Sands in a September, 2020 letter to the Impact Assessment Agency o Canada.

What the Frack Manitoba has obtained 42 well records from the Province, dating back to 2018. Some of these records clearly demonstrate that CanWhite drilled wells and used a triple tube air lift pump wells to extract both the silica sand and potable water from the aquifer, which may have lead to the mixing of sandstone aquifer water with carbonate aquifer water.

CWS may have further violated this Act, as it may have contaminated and adversely affected the water quality of groundwater in the area of this triple tube air lift pump wells.

The second Manitoba Act that CWS was allowed to violate, is the Manitoba Mines and Minerals Act., once CWS undertook advance exploration mining activities and extracted 500 tonnes of silica sand from the aquifer for the purpose of testing in 2018.

CWS, under the Mines and Minerals Act., should have been required to file a mine closure plan and provided a financial assurance, at the request of the Director of the Mines Branch, before commencing with their advance mining exploration activities.

The Director of Mines Branch failed to exercise this fiduciary responsibility by not requesting CWS submit the required mine closure plan nor the financial assurance before CWS commenced its advance exploration mining activities.

The third Act that CWS may have been allowed to violate by the Pallister government, was the Manitoba Environment Act., once CWS extracted silica sand along with large volumes of potable water from the aquifer, using their triple tube air lift pump well, which could have led to the “aquifer recharge with a closed system where water is returned to the aquifer from which it is taken with no change in quality other than temperature and a flow rate not less than 25 l/s but not greater than 250 l/s.” This would have been deemed, at minimum, a Class 2 Development Project under the Manitoba Environment Act., under the Classes of Development Regulation.

Therefore, CWS should have applied for an Environment Licence back in 2018 and also submitted an Environment Act Proposal that should have been reviewed and approved under the Manitoba Environment Act.

The Director of Environmental Approval Branch could have exempted CWS advance exploration mining activities from the Class 2 Development Project provision, but only after CWS filed their application under the Manitoba Environment Act and once notice of application was placed in the Manitoba Public Registry.

The Manitoba Water Rights Act may have been the fourth Act that CWS was allowed to be violated, but What The Frack Manitoba cannot make any definitive conclusions on this matter until we get a response to our Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act request.

The Pallister government’s woeful disregard for following its own laws and willingness to allow this Alberta based company to circumvent a number of legislative requirements for this particular resource development project is unconscionable and may very well land up before a judge for judicial review.

Don Sullivan is with What the Frack Manitoba. What the Frack Manitoba was incorporated as a not-for-profit organization in 2018 and our mission is provide timely and critical information on fracking issues of concern to all Manitobans and to help organize citizens to voice those concerns.

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