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Mount Polley Tailings Pond Breach

Looking at the pictures in the news this week of the environmental disaster that took place in central BC takes your breath away. I felt it was important to write a detailed review of what we know now and what questions need to be asked going forward. I will provide as much information I can as things develop.

In the early morning of  Monday, August 4th 2014, a 4km long tailings pond located at the Mount Polley gold and copper mine (located in central British Columbia) breached its earthen dam, and left a 45-metre wide track of muck running into the nearby lake near Likely, BC. The mine and tailings pond is owned and operated by Imperial Metals Corporation. In a press release on August 5th 2014, the company said the cause of the breach is unknown at this time, and the structure (which was independently built) was operated within the parameters given to the company, as regulated by the Ministry of Energy and Mines.

A state of emergency was declared for the Cariboo region in the morning of August 6th.

The breach released ~10 billion litres of water and 4.5 million cubic metres of silt into Polley Lake prompting drinking water warnings for Quesnel Lake, Polley Lake, Hazeltine Creek, Cariboo Creek and the Quesnel River up to its intersection with the Fraser River.

In an FAQ on tailings pond, CBC says that:

“The substances found in tailings ponds depend on the type of mining operation. Last year, Imperial Metals Corp. reported that tailings from its Mount Polley copper-gold mine contained thousands of tonnes of copper, zinc, phosphorus and managanese along with:

  • 138 tonnes of cobalt, 71 tonnes of nickel, 3.6 tonnes of antimony, 84,831 kilograms of arsenic, 38,218 kilograms of lead, 8,695 kilograms of selenium, 562 kilograms of mercury, 995 kilograms of cadmium.”

A science and policy advisor for the David Suzuki Foundation says that the most hazardous heavy metals to human and environmental health are arsenic, cadmium, copper, lead and mercury.

The breach appeared to catch the president of Imperial Metals by surprise, as he denied any indication that the dam would burst. In a town hall, Brian Kynoch said “if you asked me two weeks ago if it could happen, I would have said it couldn’t.”

However, this dam has been the subject of at least one review commissioned by the Williams Lake First Nation and Imperial Metals in 2009 and published in 2011. In the report, Brian Olding, operator of Brian Olding and Associates Ltd. (the environmental consultant that was retained for the report), said the tailings pond was accumulating water so quickly that it would have needed to discharge about 1.4 million cubic metres of water a year to keep its levels stable. This would require the dam to find a sustainable means of discharging water to prevent excessive build up. Oldings assessment found the pond levels were already getting too high five years ago.

In 2012, the government granted the permit amendment that Imperial Mines had requested, allowing it to discharge 1.4 million cubic meters of wastewater per year into Hazeltine Creek. The second permit amendment, submitted this summer, was under consideration by the ministry at the time of the tailings pond breach.

The report was also critical of the company for not having a contingency plan in case of a tailings pond failure. I do not know whether such a plan was developed in the period between the report being submitted to the company and government, and the accident on Monday. It is also worth noting that Olding says no analysis of the dam’s structural integrity was conducted, despite his request that a structural engineering company be retained.

An initial CBC investigation into the accident also provided a detailed review of the BC Government’s interactions with the Mount. Polley Mine.

In the article, the BC Ministry of Environment claims that they warned Imperial Metals about the Mount Polley mine tailings pond levels repeatedly before the breach.

In an email to CBC News, a Ministry of Environment spokesperson said it gave the firm its latest of five warnings in May, this time for exceeding the permitted height of wastewater within the tailings pond. However these warnings may have been given over the course of many years, referring to different incidences and violations.

The first of these, in 2009, prompted the independent report referred to above.

The CBC article went on to report that the B.C. Ministry of Environment reported conducting 14 inspections of the Mount Polley mine since the permit amendment was granted. On one of these inspections, that took place in August 2012, the ministry found the mine failed to report the excessive height of wastewater for the perimeter pond. The pond subsequently overflowed, releasing ~150 cubic meters of wastewater over 13 hours.

In April of this year, the ministry found the mine experienced high flows due to spring runoff, which blocked the pump system, resulting in an overflow, for which an advisory was issued. In this case the water did not reach the creek.

Finally, three months ago the ministry warned Imperial Metals yet again, after the height of wastewater in the tailings pond exceeded authorized levels.

According to the ministry, the wastewater level eventually returned to normal one month later.

In summer 2014, the firm applied to amend its permit again, this time to allow a discharge of 3 million cubic metres of treated wastewater or ditch water into Polley Lake, which overflows into Hazeltine Creek.

At least one journalist is pointing out that although the initial reaction is to blame the company, “the buck really stops with the province”, which is responsible for the regulatory culture in the province.

Stephen Hume notes that accidents like this (although not to this scale) have been happening repeatedly. In his article he cites a warning given in 2012 by The University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Centre, which noted that environmental assessment certificates for mines issued by government are often “vague and unenforceable.” Furthermore, it said that by 2008 the number of mine inspections had fallen to half what they were in 2001 and Ministry of Environment staff shrank by 25 per cent.

This is an accident that should not have happened. The warning signs were there, and yet no action took place. How many warnings must the government issue to a company before more significant action is taken? We need to ensure that the government has the necessary regulatory teeth and resources to act to prevent disasters such as the one that occurred at Mount Polley.

Going forward, we need to ensure that our first priority is that the health and well being of those affected is being looked after. This needs to include ensuring that the short term financial needs of local communities including First Nations are met, as many people find themselves without an income, and with new costs.

From the government’s side, we are still waiting for their report on the water quality in the area. In the government’s press release, the Ministry of Environment said it was on-site conducting water tests to determine the full extent of potential environmental impacts. Water sampling took place the evening of August 4th with samples having been sent for analysis, and results expected later this week. I have called on the Minister of Environment to consider independent testing to reassure local residents and those potentially affected downstream that the information is complete and impartial.

Following this, we need to start addressing how clean up of this disaster will occur, including short and long term mitigation of impacts on humans and the environment.

I will be working hard on this issue in the weeks and months that follow. At the moment I have a number of questions that I will be seeking answers to, including:

1)    What support is government offering to local communities including local First Nations to help fund this period of transition?

2)    Will there be any impacts on the Fraser River salmon run?

3)    What is the best practice in cleaning up a tailings pond spill, especially given the limited number of incidences in BC that this has happened (at this time Minister Bennett is saying this has never happened before in the province)?

4)    What contingency plans exist in government to help support its efforts financially to address this disaster, including if Imperial Metals declares we’re unable to pay for the cleanup?

5)    What role has the government’s cuts to enforcement and their approach to enforcement played in causing this accident?

6)    Are there other tailings ponds that should be red flagged?

Please don’t hesitate to contact my office if you have any questions.

45 Comments

  1. Ron Crowther-
    August 20, 2014 at 11:36 am

    It should be easy(?) for these companies to get $100 billion (or maybe unlimited) worth of insurance as these incidents “never happen” and their environmental protection is “world class”. Maybe our govt. should require this and get the big money to assess the actual risks – they are good at that. Same with the oil tankers.
    These situations would never happen if big money actually has to be responsible for it’s messes.
    The government’s coverage should be limited by the actual benefits derived by it’s citizens.
    For example, if the pipeline generates 100 permanent jobs, then maybe our government could pay the first 1 million (income taxes from the workers) max. for ongoing problems and industry could pick up the rest of it through their unlimited (easy to get because it’s never going to happen) insurance.

  2. Ryan-
    August 17, 2014 at 10:02 pm

    So my shares in Imperial are back up over $10 and I made over 15% on my money today. In retrospect, the best thing to come out of this situation will be that I was able to buy lots of undervalued Imperial Metals stock.

    …lesson learned.

    • August 18, 2014 at 8:14 am

      Ryan, many would find your post insensitive and offensive. But ultimately you are the one who has to live with yourself. I’m glad I’m not you.

  3. Leona Adams-
    August 16, 2014 at 11:43 am

    Re “Minister Bennett is saying this has never happened before in the province.” It is disappointing that Minister Bennet does not know of the tailings pond spill into Campbell River’s drinking water in 2010 from the Myra Falls mine.
    Myra Falls mines zinc, copper, lead, gold and silver.

    http://www.courierislander.com/news/local/mine-tailings-pond-overflows-into-watershed-1.126148

    There were 3 spills in all, but I cannot find a link to the 3rd one, days after the first 2.

    Interesting that Dr. Craig Orr of Watershed Watch gave the Myra Falls tailings pond spill as an example of a past spill, on a August 8th CBC program, but Minister Bennet didn’t seem to know about it.

  4. adanac-
    August 13, 2014 at 11:50 pm

    Seems, the F.N. served Imperial Metals of Mount Polley, an eviction notice.

    PM Harper and Premier Clark are going to wear this one. There is a recall petition for Premier Clark.

    Resource operations safety, deregulated. Environment safety deregulated. Resource projects permitted to operate, with acute staff shortages. Environment Ministry stripped of funding. Foreigners brought over, to work in resource projects. Claims are, they don’t understand the language well enough and are dangerous to work with but, they are cheap labor. Some were killed in the oil patch. Harper wears that one too. Many say the Mount Polley disaster was because of, pure utter greed.

    This has given mining, a very black eye.

  5. June Wood-
    August 11, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    Andrew,
    Another disaster waiting to happen is at Imperial Metal’s Huckleberry mine. The tailings pond there hangs over Tahtsa Lake, which is part of the Nechako Reservoir. A few years ago, the mine was permitted to increase the size of its tailings pond.

  6. Claude Mayrand-
    August 10, 2014 at 4:55 pm

    I really don’t understand how government and regulations and permits and warnings really work.

    Is Imperial in the wrong? Yes. Absolutely.

    But the government who is supposed to oversee and approve and regulate this site is MOSTLY in the wrong. They gave warnings but not the permits to address/correct the issues in the warning. When the issue at hand was not resolved and may have significantly worsened – nothing was done by the regulators, except to issue more warnings.

    The problem here is not technology or resource development or resource developers: the primary problem is that those we elect to administer our environment are “asleep at the switch” and are never responsible for their inactions.

    But, to their credit (sarcasm), they fine Imperial $300,000 which they will likely not follow-up and never collect.

    Some of these same inept people complain about any and all new resource development projects, using events like this one as proof that they are right in rejecting those projects.

    The blame is at first with the people we elected to oversee the protection of our resources when they have granted permission to develop and transform those same resources while collecting taxes for general revenue and not enforcing the rules and regulations and common sense put in place.

    A fine? Sure, but who is getting fired, who is being stripped of their government (aka taxpayer funded) pension?

  7. Pat-
    August 10, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    Thank you for this summary Andrew. I live in the 100 Mile House area and have spent time on beautiful Quesnel Lake. Many of us in the Cariboo are shocked, angry and profoundly sad about what has happened.

    I was involved in fighting the proposed Prosperity/ New Prosperity (what a misnomer!) mine at Teztan Biny (Fish Lake). Fortunately, it has been twice rejected by the federal government (although the provincial Liberals approved it).

    I have learned that mining companies do not tell the truth to residents about the environmental impacts, safety, or even the economic viability of these mines.

    Minister Bill Bennett has repeatedly boasted about how mining is well regulated in BC. Nothing could be further from the truth. According to Brian Olding Environmental Protection in MOE has been cut 75% (!) since 2001, along with the 25% cuts to MOE staff. Cuts to MOE also occurred under the NDP. Many of us have tried to voice concerns about these cuts, but it falls on deaf ears. During the Hearings regarding the proposed mine at Fish Lake, we heard about small spills at the new Mt. Milligan mine. Local people reported these spills to the MOE but MOE said they DID NOT HAVE THE STAFF OR RESOURCES TO INVESTIGATE.(!).

    In my opinion, our government has weakened the environmental regulatory framework to such an extent that it can no longer function. We need to restore funding to MOE NOW. The Ministry of Mines needs to have stronger oversight, and the Minister of Mines needs to listen to the recommendations of his own staff.

    In my experience, Minister Bill Bennett spends too much time promoting mining in BC to potential investors ( and in many cases grossly downplaying the risks) and not enough time doing what he should be doing- making sure that mining is done properly, safely and with minimal environmental impact in our province. MINISTER BENNETT SHOULD RESIGN IMMEDIATELY. This disaster has happened under his watch.

    Although the damage is beyond any monetary value, Imperial Metals should be held accountable and pay a hefty fine for this disaster.

    Government should strengthen its regulatory framework immediately- no excuses!

    Many of us no longer trust what government tells us, and we will be hesitant to trust the results from their water quality monitoring. There have been too many lies, too many errors of omission. This is a sad state for BC. Our politicians are supposed to look after the public trust (the commons) on our behalf.

    The disaster at Mt. Polley begs the questions, “Is anyone’s drinking water safe in rural BC where so many resource extraction projects are occurring?” What about the water for ranching and agriculture- is it safe? And we haven’t even talked about the cost to fish, salmon, wildlife, ecosystems.

  8. Chris Leischner-
    August 10, 2014 at 10:05 am

    Like all of you I am appalled at this tragedy but more than that I am sickened by this governments lack of response to an environmental crisis. I can not find words to describe my anger so I wish there was a way I could channel that into some thing worthwhile – like facilitating the downfall of this Clark regime. I was a green peace member at 19, then organized the McGregor Diversion group to stop site C in the 70’s. I have marched, I have signed petitions, I have worked for both the NDP and Greens, I am frustrated that 40 years of activism leads no where. Can anyone out there tell me what will work????

    • August 10, 2014 at 10:20 am

      We need to elect people who care more about regular people, the communities in which they live, and the long term consequences of their decisions than their corporate or union buddies. Such good people exist in all parties. Our system is messed up as we end up with an autocratic government run by an select few. My dream would be for the BC Green Party to form government. We would then look at who was elected and form a cabinet from the very best in the room – not only elected Greens. You would want to tap into all the expertise. This can work if we get enough like minded people stepping up to run. Don’t give up hope! BC is waking up.

  9. Allan Shura-
    August 9, 2014 at 10:10 pm

    Andrew there are reports that the drinking water ban has been lifted and a diversion plan approved by the province. Yet I there
    seems not to be widely available the publication of the test data and this was company testing. It should not be accepted until the data can be assessed for the methods, locations and the relevance. The province has not released their own testing
    results even though the company has for 3 days running.

  10. August 9, 2014 at 10:00 am

    Kurt brings up, what I believe, is the most relevant point – the externalization of cost (and risk). This is relevant to all situations where the needs and rights of the corporations and the commons interface. The ongoing problem seems to be that the commons invariably gets the short end of the stick in part because the value of the commons (the environment) is not well identified and is certainly not taken into any calculations of cost/benefit when projects like this are going through their approval processes. Until we, as a society solve this issue, we will, unfortunately, continue to face these sorts of catastrophes.

  11. August 8, 2014 at 10:46 pm

    Excerpt from the presentation a little over a year ago (by UBC professor John Meech) as to why Prosperity Mine should move forward:

    “So past experience shows that B.C. mines today are acting responsibly with respect to the environment ”

    ” If a mining company says it intends to preserve a lake, it is reasonable to assume that that lake will be safe for all reasonable and rational disturbances if the company has the reputation of sticking to its commitments and the abilities to do the “right thing” from an engineering point of view The impact will be mediated quickly, so permanent damage does not result. That is what world class mining is all about in controlling production, protecting the environment, and adapting to new social considerations.”

    full academic bamboozlement available at:

    http://www.ceaa-acee.gc.ca/050/documents/p63928/92072E.pdf

  12. Thomas Loo-
    August 8, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    The problem is definitely with both the province’s regulatory framework and the company. I spent many years in local government and we couldn’t even count on more than a few warning letters from MOE. The inspectors should have been able to do more than stern advisories or warnings. I also spent 6 years with the province and it was the culture of letter writing to convince the clients they need to do the right thing that caused me to leave. As an enforcement officer we were not able to do out job because of a lack of funding, and support from Management. That’s needs to change, else we will see more.2

  13. August 8, 2014 at 11:04 am

    I am a fishing guide in the Fraser river valley. Watching this and hearing the stories from people upstream makes my guy wrench and a tear in my eye for the inexcusable negligence for our land and water. I don’t think I have ever felt this mad and hurt in my life.
    I don’t care if mining is important to BC, I have over heard many of these miners in conversation and they don’t care about the environment. They only have greed for more $$$. They would be more than happy to dump all their toxic crap down the rivers if it made more profit for them.
    Many of the mining companies that operate in BC have horrible human rights records and have been found responsible for killing indigenous peoples in other parts of the world who tried to protect their communities from toxic developments.
    Q: if we have to kill the planet to ‘survive’ do you think something is wrong with the system?

  14. Carson-
    August 8, 2014 at 10:48 am

    I don’t believe the water test done by our lying gov. As being truthful

  15. Ryan-
    August 7, 2014 at 10:27 pm

    I still have some smoked trout from Polley Lake in my fridge that I caught last summer. Growing up in Horsefly, I remember well, the ups and downs of the mining industry over the years. Neighbors with jobs, then suddenly without. Massive expansions, then shutdowns, roaving exploratory drilling programs and seismic surveys. When “markets” push precious metal prices into new territory, humans involved in the production see one thing. In the case of Imperial Metals, 35M in profit and 8.55% ROI, Run the mine at 100% capacity and “get while the gettin’s good” as my neighbors would have said. Well, the more product you make, the more waste as well. But who knew? Next year we could have prices contract by x%, then the mine would throttle back, tailings production would fall and things would be as they have been for some time.
    Not this time.
    No more shimmering rainbows from Polley Lake for me and likely not even for my grandchildren.
    The problem is not the Province. The problem is not the Company. The problem is all of us and our participation and adoption of a fanatical culture of economics hell bent on playing games with share values, taxation, the environment and a global lowest common denominator.
    We can do better than this…

  16. Derek hill-
    August 7, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    Hi Andrew, You may have heard on CBC yesterday a fellow who worked on the dam said they had an overflow in the spring and improperly repaired it. He quit prior to the spill and seemed to have relevant facts.
    Derek

  17. Edward Staples-
    August 7, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    “Minister Bennett is saying this has never happened before in the province.” Mr. Bennet might want to check his facts. Just ask the people who live on the Tulameen River downstream from the Coalmont coal mine about the tailings pond that was breached last year.

    • August 7, 2014 at 2:20 pm

      I am getting sick and tired of certain members of the government saying what they think people want to hear instead of what they need to hear.

  18. Sandy-
    August 7, 2014 at 11:20 am

    Andrew Weaver has set what I believe is a new high standard for politicians offering clear, as up-to-date as possible, information about a tragic event. You might take a page from his book and avoid the spreading of misinformation (your numbers are wrong) and fear mongering hyperbole.

  19. Brendan-
    August 7, 2014 at 10:47 am

    Independent testing is critical!! I think it would be worth it to the Green Party or some other group to get boots on the ground and start getting data (as it comes down the Fraser).

    I live in the Slocan and the experience of last year’s (much smaller) fuel spill showed that the data provided by the company and that provided by independent testers was totally divergent.

    We have put the wolves in charge of the hen-house, and simply asking government to provide answers is NOT enough. It is in both the Government’s and the company’s interests to minimize the impact. The initial coverage and response from the government and company speaks volumes.

    If there are any funds in the Kitty, get boots on the ground. Spend energy to get other NGO’s to do the same.

    Thanks

  20. Finlay MacPherson-
    August 7, 2014 at 8:47 am

    Environmental damage for decades!! Over 2.5 BILLION gallons of waste sludge and toxic waste water flowing downstream. Untold numbers of dead fish and other life forms. Every rain fall will send even more toxicity downstream. Unless all the tailings deposited outside the “impoundment area” are dug up and removed, there will be continued leaching of the arsenic, lead, etc. into the surrounding areas for many years to come. Perhaps the tailings “water” should be given to Mr. Kynoch to drink. Another example of how our government is more interested in $$$ than common sense.

  21. Ingo Oevermann-
    August 7, 2014 at 2:59 am

    Just heard on tonight’s news of the possible $300,000. fine.
    Oh My – that’s impressive – someone messes up horribly and
    possibly destroys a Billion dollar food and tourism industry and
    may get a $300,000. fine?? Maybe we should just give them
    a Citizen of the Year award for contributing to the water flows!!
    This points out the crying need for significant penalties, like
    $100. million for major infractions, and the confirmed need for
    realistic insurance bonding, like $10. Billion to cover the costs
    of clean up and remediation. There are probably much better
    methods of dealing with mine tailings; the industry just needs
    to be pushed in that responsible direction. Once the beauty is
    gone, its gone for ever. Thanks for what you are doing.

  22. Brian-
    August 7, 2014 at 12:32 am

    I must correct the CEO:IT HAS HAPPENED BEFORE!
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Val_di_Stava_dam_collapse

  23. Alan Braganza-
    August 6, 2014 at 9:36 pm

    Pretty shocking to see the footage of the breached tailings pond which was brought to its breaking point as a result of months of water buildup within the pond that resulted in the critical pressures that broke the dam walls.
    Even more surprising to know that the five warnings given to lower the water levels were ignored by the mining company.

    Not surprising to predict the resulting breach and toxic contaminations of all rivers and lakes with fishery and grocery produce industries that will be impacted in the months and years ahead.

    Seems to have been entirely avoidable if the first warning was effectively addressed.

  24. Lana-
    August 6, 2014 at 8:58 pm

    Finally some actual clear straight forward information on this disaster. Thank you. The’ were’ in item 4 should read we’re…

    4) What contingency plans exist in government to help support its efforts financially to address this disaster, including if Imperial Metals declares were unable to pay for the cleanup?

    Thanks for the info,

    Lana

    • August 7, 2014 at 3:30 am

      Great question Lana. I agree.
      PS I fixed the typo. Thanks.

  25. Karen Lewis-
    August 6, 2014 at 8:16 pm

    Thank you for this clear and easy to understand summary. I agree that if you could go to the site in person, you might observe things that the articles/reports you are quoting haven’t picked up on. Nothing about this situation is particularly surprising, but it sure is sad and sickening!

  26. Bob Wilson-
    August 6, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    Thanks for this summary.

    The issue of water buildup in the tailings pond is worth a look. Why was the mine not licensed to discharge enough water to prevent levels rising in the tailings pond? If the mine has a permit to discharge 1.4 million cubic metres per year but they need to discharge 3 million (presumably in a wet year) what are they to do when the levels keep rising?

    Back when I worked on mining impacts, which is now a long time ago, mines were required to monitor and report the quality of water in their tailings ponds. Assuming self-monitoring hasn’t gone by the boards, BC Environment should have those data. Where are they?

    The mine’s CEO has been quoted in the news as saying the water in the tailings pond almost met drinking water standards, so obviously he has some data. Why is the government not being more forthcoming? Drinking water standards, by the way, are not adequate to protect fish and aquatic life, especially for copper and zinc.

  27. Wally Martin-
    August 6, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    Imperial Minerals must be held 100% accountable for this disaster. They have obviously been living in fairy tale land. The CEO Quote of the day by Brian Kynoch “It never happened before” This simple statement clearly shows how much oversight these resource companies need. They are not capable of clear thinking about possible dangerous scenarios. Resource companies don’t give a hoot about the consequences of their operations. Meanwhile we have Christy promoting more resource development at the same time trying to destroy the public school system to save a few bucks. Boy does she have it wrong.

  28. Doug Adama-
    August 6, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    Andrew,
    Will you be visiting the site?
    You are in a good position to take the liberals to task on this and a visit to the site may help bring additional attention to the issue.

    D. Adama

    • August 7, 2014 at 3:34 am

      Hi Doug, I hope to be able to find some time to visit a number of these tailing ponds in before August is up. I wish their were a few more BC Green Party MLAs to share the workload!

  29. Lori Waters-
    August 6, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    Hear hear. I also hope someone will look at Logan Lake – I’ve been up there many times, when I used to work out of Ashcroft. The lake appears toxic, even from a distance, with its unnatural copper hue. The tailings dam shows up well on Google Earth. I suspect that it might be more likely that the communities which would be most immediately and directly affected before Merritt though would be Ashcroft (depending on the force of the break) or those more directly downstream of the Thompson and then the Fraser, so Lytton, and then Hope. I do hope that with the Mount Polley disaster will come increased scrutiny and accountability, along with preventative measures.

  30. Mark Mealing-
    August 6, 2014 at 3:28 pm

    Why did the pond go: who erred, & how, in design & maintenance? What clean-up & restoration will Imperial Metals provide? What will the effects on wildlife of all kinds, especially including the Salmon runs, be? &, remembering its miserable performance & follow-up on the Lemon Creek spill last year in the West Kootenay, what will the Province do to monitor the results & punish the offenders? & for heaven’s sake, not as was done in the Valley by hiring as monitors SLC Lavalin, one of the most corrupt corporations not only in Canada but in the world. What lesson will the Pipeline Pimps learn from this? This is a very serious spill, & the way it is managed will be a good diagnostic of our current standards of responsibility as a society.We need not be terribly hopeful. But we can immediately draw two conclusions:
1. Imperial Minerals is plainly at fault for arrogantly refusing to obey regulations & follow recommendations; & for foolishly & negligently failing to operate its tailings pond safely & wisely. Surely it deserves to lose its rights to the mine.
    2. The Provincial government has failed to enforce its regulations & thus protect the land & people of the region. Surely it deserves to lose its mandate.
    Perhaps now we have some small idea why Guatemalan Indigenous people are protesting Canadian-owned mines there, too.

    • Kurt Klingbeil-
      August 7, 2014 at 12:09 am

      Might a public class-action be appropriate
      given that the mining corp is in breach of their lease/license terms and due diligence best practices and the public regulator is in breach of trust and dereliction of duty of care?

      Isn’t this case a prime example of the dangers of liability-limitation/evasion and externalization of risk and cost Into the public br quasi-private corporations?

  31. John Roberts-
    August 6, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    I suggest you remove the phrase “Tailings from oilsands can contain napthenic acids, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, phenolic compounds, ammonia, lead, mercury, and other metals.” as it is not relevant in this case.

    This is by far the most comprehensive set of information about the situation. I hope an effort is being made to make local residents aware of it.

    Thanks!
    John Roberts, Denman Island

    • August 6, 2014 at 4:35 pm

      Hello John, that was taken as a direct quote from the CBC FAQ. But you are right its not relevant so I removed it.

  32. Arthur Green-
    August 6, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    Hi Andrew, what happened at Mt. Polley, is minuscule compared to the looming disaster at Logan Lake. They have used Logan Lake as tailings pond for at least 2 decades, probably even much longer than that. If you ever have the oppurtunity to drive by it, you’ll notice that the SE end of the lake is full of tailings, and this is causing a tremendous amount of pressure on the natural barrier on the SW end of the lake, which sits about 3000 ft above Merritt and the Nicola Valley. If this barrier ever breaches, potentially from an earthquake or some other cause, it will make the Mt Polley disaster, comparatively, look like someone peeing in a mud puddle, as the Lake itself is about the same size as Quesnel Lake. Could you imagine that volume of water running down a 3000′ mountain and into Merritt and the Nicola Valley. Never mind the pollution, just that size of an inland psuenamie, then into the Nicola,, Thompson and Fraser River.
    I’m going to try and expose this impending disaster with a series of photo and journal exposes’. Not only is this a potential warning of an impending disaster, but it is also a perfect oppurtunity of just how pro-active us Greens are, when it comes to protecting our citizenry and the environment as well.
    If there are any Greens in the Logan Lake area, or any area for that matter, I would welcome their assistance in producing this series of exposes’. Please feel free to assist, or inviting any other Greens to expose this impending environmental and human danger tragedy.
    Thank you!
    Fraternally yours,
    Art Green, Hope

    • August 7, 2014 at 3:37 am

      Hi Arthur, I see both you and Lori noted the Logan Lake tailings pond. I hope to visit that area to get a first hand look. Mining is important for BC. But having a strong, regulatory framework with teeth is just as important. The expression “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is very applicable.