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NS desires to wash up a contaminated former gold mine – if solely it may discover out who owns the land

The Nova Scotia authorities desires to take over one of many province’s two most polluted historic gold mines so it could possibly clear it up.

The Goldenville web site, positioned close to Sherbrooke on the East Coast, was the most efficient of Nova Scotia’s 64 historic gold mining districts. It was mined from 1862 to 1941 and included as many as 19 completely different floor and underground mines.

These operations left a legacy of arsenic and mercury contamination that persists to today, each within the materials and within the water on the web site and downstream so far as the Atlantic Ocean.

By means of the province’s environmental cleanup company, Nova Scotia Lands, the federal government was creating plans to rehabilitate Goldenville. Cleanup of that web site, in addition to the second most contaminated former mine, Montague Gold Mines, is estimated to price at the very least $60 million.

However plans for Goldenville hit a snag a number of years in the past when workers realized the property that included the supply of the contamination — a stamp mill that crushed the ore earlier than the gold was extracted — was not Crown land. The province would want permission from the landowner to hold out its work.

Then issues acquired much more difficult. Employees found that nobody knew who owned the property.

A 1765 deed exhibits that the property in query was a part of the 60,700 acres granted that 12 months by the Rev. James Lyons. Provincial analysis didn’t discover later titles and works. (Division for Pure Assets and Renewable Power)

The Nova Scotia Land Registry lists the proprietor of the 32-hectare lot at 34 Goldenville Street Extension as “unknown proprietor.” The lot has an assessed worth of $21,400.

The province sought data on the nation’s historical past, reviewing paperwork, together with handwritten papers, courting again to 1765.

Paperwork obtained by the CBC via a Freedom of Data request present that the Division of Pure Assets and Renewable Assets’ analysis discovered the property to be a part of the 60,700 acres granted to the Reverend James Lyons in 1765, however no subsequent titles or deeds had been recorded.

The realm beneath the previous mill on the historic gold mine in Goldenville, NS, exhibits tailings left over from processing actions. (Land of Nova Scotia)

To accumulate the land now, the province should pay all excellent taxes after which announce its intention to purchase it. Anybody entitled to the property has 18 months from the day the tax was paid to return ahead.

Based on the paperwork, the unpaid taxes are $1,017.54 as of Nov. 30, 2021.

County staff had a quick scare final 12 months when it emerged the municipality of St. Mary’s County would promote the property at a tax sale, which means anybody may purchase it and it could go to the best bidder. The province doesn’t have the authority to buy property via a tax sale.

The Division of Pure Assets and Renewable Power intervened and the parcel was faraway from the listing of potential tax properties.

Delay in cleansing

The possession concern got here to gentle when the Division of Pure Assets and Renewable Power was conducting a web site evaluation, a part of the preliminary cleanup course of for contaminated websites.

The information got here as a shock to Diane Saurette, chief working officer of the Division of Public Works. In an e-mail final November to the nation of Nova Scotia, she mentioned she assumed the second-stage environmental web site evaluation for Goldenville was on monitor and can be accomplished within the fall.

“Once you referred to as me a number of weeks in the past, we first heard there was an issue with Goldenville,” she wrote to Donnie Burke, govt director of environmental evaluation and remediation for NS Lands.

The possession concern will delay plans to wash up the location, as remediation can not start till the parcel of land is owned by the province.

Requested for an replace Thursday, the Division of Pure Assets and Renewable Assets didn’t present a brand new timeline for when the remediation work would start. A spokesman mentioned discussions with the Division of the Surroundings can be required earlier than workers may entry the location for remediation.

Burke mentioned in an inside e-mail on July 13 that he hoped the matter can be resolved “inside a 12 months.”

Contamination on web site

The Goldenville web site is likely one of the two most polluted former gold mines within the province.

Provincial soil high quality tips require not more than 31 milligrams per kilogram of arsenic. In Goldenville, the utmost stage present in tailings was 209,000 milligrams per kilogram, and the common was 19,181 milligrams per kilogram, in keeping with 2015 Division of Pure Assets Report.

The province says Nova Scotians are unlikely to be affected by arsenic and mercury from gold mine tailings as a result of their publicity is low, however persons are suggested to keep away from areas the place the tailings are current.

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