Arsenic Lost Years: Pollution Control at Giant Mine from 1978 to 1999




Giant Mine, Arsenic, environmental health, environmental regulation, Northwest Territories, mining history, Arctic mining, arsenic regulation, regulatory history, toxic legacies, mining and communities


Arsenic pollution of the air, land, and waters surrounding the Giant Gold Mine in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, has been an ongoing public health crisis since the mine was opened in 1948. This article focuses on the story of Giant Mine from 1978 to 1999, paying particular attention to environmental health policy reform in the mine’s later years in the 1990s. I argue that regulatory action was delayed and ultimately prevented by the inability of regulators to respond to the risks that continuous exposure to low doses of arsenic posed to the community around Giant Mine. This article uncovers a trail of government, activist, and industry discourse that illuminates the extent to which the Canadian environmental regulatory structure was paralyzed by a lack of certainty on how toxins like arsenic interact with the human body.

Author Biography

Sally Abbott Western

British Columbia Northern Health Authority, Office of Health and Resource Development





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