More concerns raised about coal mine issue

Community Featured

WESTVILLE — More information regarding coal mining was shared on May 27 with those attending the monthly town council meeting.

Cowan Street resident Clarrie MacKinnon, a member of the concerned citizens committee that opposes open pit coal mining, shared a three-page report outlining the concerns the committee and others have regarding Pioneer Coal’s desire to explore the potential return on coal located between the street and a local railway.

MacKinnon and fellow resident Val Forsythe co-authored the report which included an aerial view of the site and lines showing where the coal is located. There is also a depiction of particulates contained in the coal dust that is considered harmful and that would be released during the mining period.

“There may not be a safe level of coal dust exposure,” the report stated.

It said the dust would curtail drying laundry outdoors and other outdoor activities.

Besides health, subjects the report examined included subsidence, barrier issues, the railway, a former town dump, contaminated water, encroachment on the Cowan Place modular home park and property values.

Proposing a chain-link fence instead of a berm would mean more dust in the area and would endanger vehicle and pedestrian traffic, the report said.

“Many homes in Westville are already undermined and at increased risk,” it said.

Other problems contained in the report included noise, damage and raised anxiety among people due to vibration from blasting.

Besides MacKinnon, speakers during the public forum that followed regular council business include several who have raised the issue at previous meetings.

Diana Mannion said her home has been listed for sale due to her health issues and the possibility of the province approving the coal mining. “I can’t be exposed to the dust and dirt that may be toxic to me,” she said.

Wayne Morris discussed how real estate values have dropped elsewhere due to similar land disruption and said the town would lose far more revenue based on tax assessment than it could recoup in mining royalties.

“People who moved to this town never thought this would happen to them,” he said. “When you talk about property values, it really gets your attention.”

It was another crowded meeting in town council chambers as those attending listened to and addressed the matter of possible coal mining in Westville. (Goodwin photo)