Mt. Polley mine disaster -- Imperial Metals tailings pond rupture

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epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..txs nr. now time for a real critique.

Mount Polley investigation: Whitewash follows tailings flood – culprits let off the hook

The recently concluded “independent” investigation into the Mount Polley tailings pond rupture essentially exonerates the various culprits in what was likely the worst environmental catastrophe in BC history. The report can only be seen as a whitewashing of the world record 25 million cubic metres of mine tailings and other debris that swept into Hazeltine Creek and the formerly pristine Quesnel Lake.

quote:

Alternate report alleges cover-up

Quite to the contrary, another report, by the BC Tapwater Alliance last December, marshals credible evidence to lay blame at the feet of the BC Liberal Government, mine owner Imperial Metals and the engineer of record, Knight Piesold. It concludes, “the Mount Polley mine tailings storage catastrophe could have been, and should have been, preventable,” equating subsequent denials of culpability to a “cover-up”.

And that should stand to reason. The mere notion of “design” implies human agency. Someone had to conduct the geological studies, interpret the data, and incorporate that into the engineering of the facility; just as human regulators were responsible for overseeing this process and verifying its implementation and evolving risks over the lifetime of the project. How one can attribute flaws to the design process but not to the people, companies and governments behind it is simply baffling.

http://commonsensecanadian.ca/mount-polley-investigation-whitewash-follo...

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Mount Polley spill: Search warrants executed at Imperial Metals

The B.C. Conservation Service executed search warrants at the Mount Polley mine and the Vancouver offices of its owner Imperial Metals Tuesday night, in relation to the spill of 25 million cubic metres of waste from the mine's tailings pond last August.

Insp. Chris Doyle with the conservation service said the search warrants were issued to support a joint investigation by the B.C. Conservation Service, the RCMP, Environment Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

"The investigation primarily focuses on offences related to the Environment Management Act and the Federal Fisheries Act, but is not limited to these acts," he said....

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/mount-polley-spill-search...

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After Mount Polley: 'This is Indigenous Law'

quote:

The Northern Secwepemc te Qelmucw leadership council, which is composed of four northern Secwepemc bands, finalized a mining policy dated Nov. 19, 2014. Formation of the mining policy began in 2012, but the Mount Polley spill provided the council the motivation to finish it.

''One thing I want to make perfectly clear is this policy isn't a wish-list,'' said Jacinda Mack, leadership council co-ordinator. ''This is prescriptive. This is indigenous law. We did very thorough research and took more than two years to release the final document.''

The leadership council had mining experts and lawyers comb through the policy, which is now part of the partnership between mining proponents, the province, and the northern Shuswap. Mining proponents have a definite baseline framework to abide by on Secwepemc territory, Mack added.

''This goes above and beyond anything the B.C. government currently requires from a mining company,'' Mack said. ''We have compiled the best mining practices in the world into one document.''...

http://thetyee.ca/News/2015/02/07/After_Mount_Polley_Indigenous_Law/

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Wade Davis - Odyssey to the Sacred Headwaters - UBC Reads Sustainability

Streamed live on Feb 12, 2015 Against the wishes of First Nations, the British Columbia government has opened the Sacred Headwaters to industrial development. Imperial Metals is building an open-pit copperand gold mine called the Red Chris mine. This is all taking place while the Mount Polley mine disaster in August 2014, a mine also owned by Imperial Metals, is at the forefront of public debate.

Professor Wade Davis describes the beauty of the Sacred Headwaters, the threats to it, and the response of native groups and concerned citizens as part of UBC Reads Sustainability.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmeB8qdE9qw#t=285

 

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

eta..this video is an excellent account of how mining projects are created in bc. it is a longish account but well worth it if one is truely interested in understanding the process.

Wade Davis - Odyssey to the Sacred Headwaters - UBC Reads Sustainability

Streamed live on Feb 12, 2015 Against the wishes of First Nations, the British Columbia government has opened the Sacred Headwaters to industrial development. Imperial Metals is building an open-pit copperand gold mine called the Red Chris mine. This is all taking place while the Mount Polley mine disaster in August 2014, a mine also owned by Imperial Metals, is at the forefront of public debate.

Professor Wade Davis describes the beauty of the Sacred Headwaters, the threats to it, and the response of native groups and concerned citizens as part of UBC Reads Sustainability.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmeB8qdE9qw#t=285

 

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..this is a brilliant creation in how to get a message out

SHUT DOWN MOUNT POLLEY MINE - No Reopen Permit

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r638y5U6qdw

eta:

National Call To Action: April 29 Stop Mt Polley from reopening

“The Secwepemc Woman Warriors Society calls on all people across the land to use any tactics possible to stand in solidarity with the Secwepemc Peoples eviction of Imperial Metals from their Territory!”

On April 1st [2015], the province of BC accepted the application to reopen Imperial Metals Mount Polley mine, leaving 1 month for the public to respond. This company and mine is responsibly for dumping 14.5 million cubic metres of mining wastes into pristine waterways, the Fraser River Watershed, the 2nd largest salmon spawning grounds in the World and devastating the unceded Territory of the Secwepemc Peoples and their way of life...

https://warriorpublications.wordpress.com/2015/04/23/national-call-to-ac...

https://www.facebook.com/events/479754152172313/

 

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Evict Imperial: Confront The Ministry Of Mines

Wednesday, April 29 at 3:00pm

865 Hornby St, Vancouver, BC


Come out! Stand with the Secwepemc Woman Warrior Society to Stop Mount Polley Reopening - April 29, 2015. 

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May Day - Drum Circle - Indigenous & Grassroots Resistance Solidarity Gathering

Friday, May 1 at 5:30pm

1657 Charles Street (@ Commercial Drive), Vancouver

jerrym

As government and company officials continue to tell us that everything is OK, test results say otherwise.

 

Quote:

Water near Mount Polley gold mine still tainted, tests find Contents from a tailings pond is pictured going down the Hazeltine Creek into Quesnel Lake near the town of Likely, B.C. on August, 5, 2014. The tailings dam at the Mount Polley mine burst without warning at 1 a.m. last August 4, hours after workers were at the foot of the structure.Photograph by: JONATHAN HAYWARD , THE CANADIAN PRESS

Water test results following the Mount Polley mine dam failure eight months ago have continued to show periodic elevated levels of metals.

The latest results from February and March show government guidelines were exceeded for copper for aquatic life on the Quesnel River near the town of Likely, downstream from the mine. 

Provincial officials continue to say the water is safe to drink as long as it is filtered, though there have been some exceedances of drinking water guidelines since last fall. ...

That comes as little comfort to some area residents who say they still don’t trust the water, even though they’ve been told it is safe to drink, and who also continue to worry about the long-term effects of the dam failure on fish, a concern shared by scientists. ...

“The colour of the water is still wrong,” says Lawna Bourassa, a resident of Likely adjacent to the Quesnel River. “It’s a double standard — they say the water is drinking quality but you can’t drink it because of turbidity.”

Turbidity is a measure of water clarity and the amount of material suspended in the water.

Bourassa noted that before Christmas the water in the river and the lake was a pea soup colour. It has cleared recently, although not completely, but Bourassa expects the water to get worse again if the plume of sediment in the lake turns over this spring and pulses out in the river.

In some cases, the test results from the B.C. Ministry of Environment have shown significant elevated levels.

For example, on Jan. 27, the total aluminum reading in Quesnel Lake at the outlet of Hazeltine Creek — the path the mine waste flowed to reach the lake — was nearly 15 times the Canadian drinking water guideline. Tests showed that levels of iron were six times above Canadian drinking water guidelines and manganese was twice the guideline.

Aluminum levels were also exceeded in the month of January at the Quesnel River bridge at Likely and farther downstream at the Gravelle Ferry Bridge.

Hubert Bunce, a B.C. Ministry of Environment director who heads up the Mount Polley file, said the elevated metal readings were a result of sediment-laden deep water turning over to the surface in the fall and then flushing out in the Quesnel River.

He also noted that readings at the Gravelle River ferry station were affected by water from the Cariboo River, also containing sediments, that had nothing to do with the Mount Polley mine dam failure.

Bunce noted that Imperial Metals’ consultants have predicted that the sediment pulses into the river from Quesnel Lake will clear up by August.

“Now that’s a prediction, a model, but they were pretty accurate at predicting the lake overturn and resulting sediment outflow from Quesnel Lake at Likely in November and December,” he said. ...

Bourassa said the ongoing issues and uncertainties about the effects on the watershed from the spill makes her concerned about the potential reopening of the mine.

http://www.vancouversun.com/Water+near+Mount+Polley+gold+mine+still+tain...

 

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..more from the women warriors

Secwepemc Women Warriors Halt TransCanada at Sacred Place

By Secwepemc Women Warrors Society

BREAKING WARRIOR NEWS April 27, 2015: Secwepemc Women Warriors Society halt the Trans Canada highway expansion at their Sacred Site. This area holds ancient ties between Secwepemc, that hold an inherent responsibility to protect this area, that is home to a Sacred Being and CANNOT be disturbed. This area known as "Hoffman's Bluffs" to the white Peoples is not for sale and not to be messed with! Secwepemc Territory is unceded, unsurrendered, No treaty, No purchase, therefore Canada or BC have no jurisdiction. This is not the first time Trans Canada Hwy has desecrated our Secwepemc Sacred places and burial sites, they destroyed whole village sites. This must stop!

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..good demo. got the word out. more and more people gettting involved. you can see it in the faces of most people walking by that they are paying attention. lots of nods, honks and thunbs up in support. 

Stopping the Mount Polley Mine (pics)

Activists in Vancouver joined other protests across BC and the continent in a national day of action called for by Secwepemc Women Warriors' Society Thursday.  The protests demanded the eviction of Imperial Metals and a stop to  the reopening of the Mount Polley Mine.

Last August, Imperial Metals dumped 25 million cubic metres of toxic mine waste into the lands and waterways of the Secwepemc Peoples. The spill from a failed tailings pond has had a disastrous impact on local communities that is still spreading. The tailings have now reached the Fraser River watershed and the world's second largest salmon spawning grounds....

http://vancouver.mediacoop.ca/photo/stopping-mount-polley-mine/33484

 

 

 

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WE ARE IMPERIAL NO MORE
Imperial Metals AGM Action
9am, Wednesday, May 27
Sutton Place Hotel, 845 Burrard Street, Vancouver
Coast Salish Territory

Imperial Metals, the mining corporation responsible for the Mount Polley Mine tailings disaster, is having their Annual General Meeting in Vancouver on May 27th. At the AGM, Imperial Metals is attempting to continue and advance mining projects in the unceded territories of the Secwepemc, Tahltan, Wet'suwet'en, Ahousaht, and Tla-o-qui-aht Nations. But Indigenous & allied land defenders are resisting Imperial Metal!

https://www.facebook.com/events/1439957396301045/

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Imperial Metals losing money as Mount Polley still closed, Red Chris not at full production

Imperial Metals continues to bleed red ink as its main cash generator, the Mount Polley gold and copper mine, remains closed after a catastrophic failure last summer of its mine-waste dam.

The Vancouver-based mining company reported on Friday a loss in the first three months of 2015 of $33.4 million and revenues of $1.5 million.

Cash flow was negative, and dropped $26.4 million from the same three-month period in 2014.

“The decrease is primarily due to the absence of revenue from Mount Polley due to the suspension of mine operations,” Imperial Metals said in a news release announcing the first-quarter loss.

Imperial Metals is trying to get the go-ahead to restart the Mount Polley mine in the Central Interior, northeast of Williams Lake, and is awaiting a decision by the province, possibly in June....

http://www.vancouversun.com/business/Imperial+Metals+losing+money+Mount+...

iyraste1313

Thanks for this critically important info!

Apparently the company was at the point of sinking into a fabulously rich gold vein on their (sic) property....

The weak link in the resistance to this process of reopening has got to be the collusion of the 4 North Shuswap bands, not to mention of course the collaborationist unions...surely this is where the pressure must be put!

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Native Resistance to Canada’s Worst Mining Disaster – Mount Polley

To Secwepemc the Water is Sacred, the Salmon are Sacred. The massive Mount Polley mining disaster that happened at Yuct Ne Senxiymetkwe, unceded Secwepemc Territory (near Likely, BC) will continue to impact both the water and salmon for thousands of years. Imperial Metals Mount Polley tailings dam failure unleashed billions of gallons of toxic mine tailings and slurry into pristine water ways and salmon spawning grounds. The government of bc has issued a “restart permit” without the consent of the Indigenous Peoples and no sufficient clean up. Secwepemc join with others worldwide to resist and fight back against mining and the re-opening of this illegal and destructive mine, that is backed by government.

iyraste1313

Native Resistance to Canada’s Worst Mining Disaster – Mount Polley

Thanks for this! Which is at the heart of our work based in the Shuswap...

But strategic discussions must develop, what with the capitulation of the Norrthern Shuswap Tribal Council to the Company...and the evident passivity of the settler population in the area to consider any serious movement in opposition?

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..no problem iyraste

Mount Polley Mine Spill Anniversary Interview with Richard Holmes

This video features footage of Likely, B.C. and the reconstructed Hazeltine Creek, where 24 million cubic metres of mining waste poured into Quesnel Lake August 4, 2014. DeSmog's Carol Linnitt spoke with local resident and fisheries biologist Richard Holmes on the one year anniversary of the spill.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

BC: Secwepemc Blockade Mount Polley Mine Site

Today's blockade is just the beginning...


..and a reminder why

iyraste1313

Hey thanks for these photos...was supposed to take part, til my ride fell through!

But of course the North Secwepemc Band Councils are totally complicit here.....and so much at stake!

Rich gold veins have been dicovered there!

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First Nations launch lawsuit against Mount Polley mine

Today marks two years since a tailings pond dam at the Mount Polley mine breached, releasing millions of litres of tainted water. Now, First Nations in the area are launching a pair of lawsuits claiming damage to their territory.

Jim MacArthur with the St’at’imc cheif’s council says it’s impossible to underestimate the importance of local watersheds to the nation.

“A river with salmon in it is much more than just a river with salmon in it. It’s the backbone of an entire way of life, and a culture that grew out of that way of life, and that culture is still practiced today.”

The St’at’imc, as well as the Soda Creek and Williams Lake bands, are now taking the province and Imperial Metals to court claiming negligence and possible long term damage to their traditional lands.

“Not only do we see an immediate consequence in the people left the river that year, but we will see in four years from 2014, we’ll see what measurable impact has been on the salmon.”

MacArthur says with salmon cycles it could take years to assess the impact, meaning a long court battle.

He also says that while the paperwork was filed this week, he expects they’ll take years to hear back, as the Nations collect data on possible ecological damage.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Imperial Metals office in Vancouver occupied

OFFICIAL STATEMENT FROM YUCT NE SENXIMETKWE CAMP, August 9, 2016

WE SUCCESSFULLY OCCUPIED IMPERIAL METALS TODAY.

Two years after the Mount Polley disaster, Secwepemc Women’s Warrior Society and Ancestral Pride had an action today to show Imperial Metals that we will escalate resistance until they cease and desist all mining operation in our Indigenous territories. Imperial Metals ordered thirty police offers to violently assault Indigenous women and supporters, with four arrests and many bruised bodies. But our spirits are high and we know the world is watching, we have support from around the world. We are holding their responsible for the violence against Indigenous lands and Indigenous women. We sent a message to investors and shareholders, including President Brian Kynoch who was in the office, that they are violating our Indigenous Rights and Title and violating our free, prior and informed consent....

...

NOW: Violent arrests by police against protesters occupying Imperial Metals headquarters in Vancouver. Story to follow.

Video



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VIDEO:

INDIGENOUS WARRIORS BLOCKADE MINE ROAD AND OCCUPY IMPERIAL METALS HEADQUARTERS TO MARK 2 YEARS SINCE MOUNT POLLEY MINE DISASTER!!!

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Mount Polley, B.C. Government Target of Criminal Charges Brought by Mining Watchdog

Almost 30 months after 25-million cubic metres of contaminated sludge and water swept into lakes and creeks around the Mount Polley Mine, near Williams Lake, MiningWatch Canada has filed a private prosecution against the provincial government and Mount Polley Mining Corporation.

MiningWatch, supported by a coalition of environmental, First Nations and social justice organizations from Canada and Alaska, was forced to take action because the Crown has failed to lay charges and enforce the Fisheries Act despite ample evidence, said Ugo Lapointe, MiningWatch national program coordinator.

“We are all concerned that, almost 30 months later, despite clear evidence of impacts on waters, fish and fish habitat, no sanctions and no penalties have been brought forwards by any level of government,” Lapointe said.

“This sends the wrong signal to the industry across the country and undermines public confidence in the capacity of our regulatory system to work effectively to protect our environment.”

quote:

The MiningWatch charges were filed in Provincial Court in Williams Lake Tuesday, using a provision of the Criminal Code that allows citizens to start a private prosecution if they believe someone has committed an indictable offence.

However, looking at the massive expense of taking the province and a mining corporation to court, Lapointe is hoping the case will be picked up by the Federal Crown.

“They can decide whether to take over the case or not,” he said.

The legislation is a valuable constitutional safeguard that provides for citizens to enforce federal laws, such as the Fisheries Act, to protect public resources, said MiningWatch lawyer Lilina Lisenko.

The same legislation was used by salmon farm activist Alexandra Morton in a case against Marine Harvest Canada, when the company pleaded guilty to illegal possession of wild salmon, and for an ongoing lawsuit by Marilyn Burgoon against Executive Fuel Flight Services after 33,000 litres of jet fuel spilled into Lemon Creek.

“The next step is to go through the process hearing and, if the court accepts the evidence, then they set up a trial date,” Lapointe said in an interview.

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Federal Government Seeks to Quash Lawsuit Against Mount Polley and B.C. Government Before Evidence Heard

The federal government is seeking to stay a private lawsuit brought against Mount Polley Mining Corporation and the B.C. government in October 2016, nearly 30 months after the collapse of the Mount Polley tailings pond spilled 25-million cubic metres of contaminated mining waste into Quesnel Lake, a source of drinking water for residents of Likely, B.C.

Now the federal government is seeking a withdrawal of the criminal charges before MiningWatch Canada — the organization that first brought the charges, which claim the company and the province violated the federal Fisheries Act — has been given the opportunity to present evidence.

“We were stunned that the federal Crown does not even want us to show the court that there was enough evidence to justify proceeding with a prosecution against both the B.C. government and [the Mount Polley Mining Corporation] for the worst mining spill in Canadian history,” Ugo Lapointe, Canada Program Coordinator for MiningWatch, said.

“To add insult to injury, the Federal Crown did not even provide an explanation for why it is doing this now, with such short notice before the Court date which was set for the last two month,” Lapointe told DeSmog Canada.

Lapointe said under normal circumstances a process hearing would take place during which evidence would be presented and after which the court would emit a summons and set a trial date. Or, if the court decided to stay the proceedings, it would do so with an explanation based on the evidence and provided to the court and thus the public.

The B.C. court will take up to several weeks to decide if the Crown is warranted in entering a stay of charges....

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Contaminated mine 'an embarrassment to Canada', says Yukon judge

A Yukon judge has delivered a strongly-worded "wake up call" to Canadian taxpayers, who are now on the hook for another expensive mine cleanup in the territory.  

Yukon Supreme Court justice Ron Veale approved a clean up plan for the abandoned Mount Nansen mine site, last spring — to be paid for by Ottawa — but issued his written decision this week.

He used the opportunity to lambaste the mine's former owner, Toronto firm, BYG Resources, for an "unscrupulous history of ... operational mismanagement" that left a big, toxic mess for government to deal with.

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'Raping and pillaging' Yukon resources

BYG began mining at the Mount Nansen site, about 180 kilometres north of Whitehorse, in 1996, but then closed shop just three years later after being charged with several environmental violations (the company was guilty of "raping and pillaging" the territory's resources, the Yukon Supreme Court found in 2007).

Five years later, in 2004, BYG filed for bankruptcy and the federal government assumed responsibility for the site. Federal lawyers estimate Ottawa has spent about $20 to $25 million since then, just to monitor and control the site....

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British Columbians Saddled With $40 Million Clean-Up Bill as Imperial Metals Escapes Criminal Charges

quote:

Mining Watch had launched a private prosecution of Imperial Metals and the B.C. government, alleging violations of the Fisheries Act — but federal government lawyers blocked that prosecution on Monday, arguing for a stay of proceedings as there are ongoing investigations by the B.C. Conservation Officer Service, Environment Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

The stay of proceedings and lack of government action is frustrating as there is a three-year statute of limitations on some offences, Lapointe said.

quote:

British Columbians On Hook For Clean-Up Costs

On top of the problem of government inaction, it is galling that Imperial Metals has not paid the full cost of the clean up, said Angus Wong, campaign manager for SumOfUs, which sponsored the petition.

“Instead British Columbians and Canadians picked up a big part of the tab,” he said.

After the dam collapsed, the provincial government assured British Columbians that under the province’s polluter-pay-rules, Imperial Metals would pick up all clean up costs resulting from the catastrophe.

But independent economist Robyn Allan, who has analyzed figures used by Imperial Metals, said in an interview that, despite those assurances by Environment Minister Mary Polak, taxpayers are picking up almost $40 million of the clean up tab, amounting to more than half of the response cost.

That figure is made up of $23.6 million in tax refunds for Imperial Metals and $15.5 million in direct costs incurred by government departments over the past two-and-a-half years, said Allan, former president of ICBC.

“Recoveries for these charges are a paltry $625,000. This is because, under B.C.’s spill cost recovery regulation, cost recovery is severely limited,” she said.

Imperial Metals estimated clean up costs at $67.4 million, a figure that has not changed in more than two years.

Under provincial rules, bonds posted with the province are supposed to cover reclamation after the mine closes, not environmental damage from an accident, and mining companies are not required to prove they have insurance or the financial resources to pay for damage they cause.

“The problem with this provincial government is that they have not made sure, when unintended environmental harm happens, that these companies have enough money to respond,” Allan said.

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B.C. Quietly Grants Mount Polley Mine Permit to Pipe Mine Waste Directly Into Quesnel Lake

The B.C. Ministry of Environment has quietly granted the Mount Polley Mining Corporation permission to drain mining waste directly into Quesnel Lake, B.C.’s deepest fjord lake and a source of drinking water for residents of Likely, B.C., as part of a “long-term water management plan.”

The wastewater discharge permit comes nearly three years after the collapse of the Mount Polley mine tailings pond spilled an estimated 25 million cubic metres of mining waste into Quesnel Lake, in what is considered the worst mining disaster in Canadian history. 

No charges and no fines have been laid for the spill that cost B.C. taxpayers an estimated $40 million in cleanup costs and that B.C.’s chief mine inspector, Al Hoffman, found was the result of “poor practices” and “non-compliances.” .....

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Four years in, still no fines, charges for Mount Polley mine disaster

This week marks the four-year anniversary since the tailings dam at Imperial Metals’ Mount Polley mine collapsed, dumping 25 billion litres of mining waste into the once-pristine Quesnel Lake, Polley Lake and Hazeltine Creek.

Since then, there have been no fines, no charges, no penalties levelled against the company for this disaster.

For four years, local residents and people all over British Columbia have been awestruck by the ongoing injustice of it all.

It seems more likely an individual would face higher fines for accidentally spilling a litre of motor oil than what Imperial Metals has faced.

B.C. let the deadline for environmental charges come and go. There’s just one year left for charges to be brought at the federal level, if at all.

But guess what Imperial Metals’ has received in lieu of penalties? Permits.

The most egregious of which is a long-term water discharge permit which allows the mine to dump waste water directly into Quesnel Lake.

We’ve recently discovered B.C. is poised to approve new amendments to this discharge permit, to which community members were almost unanimously opposed.

The vast quantities of mine waste that flowed into Quesnel Lake remain there to this day and for that reason many of us living on the lake refuse to fish or drink the water.....

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