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Remediation project at Long Lake gold mine expected to finally begin to clean up arsenic tailings

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An environmental cleanup project is expected to finally get going in Sudbury this year.

It was in 2015 when arsenic was discovered in an old gold mine site near the extreme western part of Long Lake, but several delays prevented the project from moving forward until now.

The two tailings ponds above the glory hole are what will be remediated.

"What they’re doing is scraping all of the tailings together and putting them together into a compound," chair of the Long Lake Stewardship Committee, Scott Darling explained.

"Then digging out a bed, laying a proper bed below it, putting the tailings that has the arsenic into it; then they’ll put a cover on top of it and then put a growth barrier on top."

Darling said this will contain the toxic element so it can't leach into the water table.

The Long Lake Stewardship Committee has been working closely with the Ministry of Mines on the remediation project.

According to Darling, the environmental assessment just wrapped up and the next step is to create road access to the site which will allow large equipment to drive in for the cleanup.

"We all have the same goal -- clean up the gold mine -- and I think we are getting very close to making that happen," he said.

About 10-15 residents on Long Lake have been using bottled water since the arsenic was first discovered, but the gold mine has been in existence for about 100 years.

"With the rain and climate change [the arsenic] leaches through into our water table and eventually gets down into Long Lake," Darling said.

"We’re going back, we’re remediating and we’re correcting a problem that should have been corrected in the 1930s and 40s. Unfortunately, that’s history we can’t worry about that. We’re worried about the future, clean it up for our kids."

In an email to CTV News, the provincial ministry of mines said the rehabilitation of the old Long Lake gold mine site in Sudbury continues to be a priority.

"The government's top priority is the health and safety of people and protecting the environment. Ontario is committed to rehabilitating Ontario's abandoned mine sites," the ministry said.

"The ministry continues to work towards the implementation of the rehabilitation plan for the Long Lake gold mine and will take the necessary steps to implement the rehabilitation plan and remediate the mine hazards."

Comments submitted on the ministry’s notice of completion for the class environmental assessment are currently being reviewed.

The entire remediation project is expected to take about three years and cost the ministry a total of $35 million. 

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