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Could a strip mine come to Westville?

['<p>The Minister of Environment has determined that an environmental assessment is required if Pioneer Coal wants to conduct blasting at the strip mine in Stellarton. According to the department, as of Dec. 2, Pioneer Coal has yet to register for the assessment. ADAM MACINNIS – THE NEWS</p>']
Pioneer Coal is currently operating a strip mine in Stellarton but would like to look at the possibility of doing similar work in Westville. – FILE PHOTO

Pioneer Coal asks council to allow coal exploration drilling in Cowan Street area

WESTVILLE, N.S.

Pioneer Coal wants to do some coal exploration in the Town of Westville.

And some people aren’t happy about it.

“If you give them permission to do exploration drilling, you’re opening the door up,” said Westville resident Arthur Sinclair.

“As soon as you give them permission, it’s game over.”

But Coun. Lynn MacDonald pointed out that allowing the exploration to take place doesn’t mean anything further will come of it.

“It’s a kind of ‘kick the tires and let’s see what’s going on’,” said MacDonald.

Coun. Bernie Murphy agreed.

“It’s a very inexpensive way to see what’s underneath the ground,” Murphy added.

A strip mine across the street?

Cowan Street-area resident Doug MacNeil expressed his concerns about dust levels and industrial noise impeding the quality of life for residents.

“How many of you, or anyone here,” he said, glancing back at those who attending the meeting, “would like a strip mine across the street?”

In a letter to the town dated Oct. 2, the Antigonish-based company requested permission to access two parcels of town-owned land, both located south of Cowan Street.

Pioneer Coal said it hopes to use a “phased approach” to coal exploration in the Westville area.

“Phase 1 will involve drilling to locate the coal seam on town-owned lands and gather some basic information about the coal seam,” company representative Alex Martell wrote in the letter.

“Drilling operations will be relatively small and non-invasive, involving minor tree removal to provide drill access where necessary.

“Your permission to access Town of Westville lands does not represent further commitment by either party,” the letter stated.

Coun. Lennie White said he has reservations about allowing the exploration, and successfully asked town council to table a motion requesting Pioneer Coal provide council with more information before making a final decision.

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