VICTORIA, B.C. – In light of the tragic industrial disaster at Mount Polley Mine south of Quesnel, the B.C. Green Party is calling on the provincial government to require every mine in the province to undertake an independent engineering report of their tailings storage facilities.
“The B.C. government has the legislative ability to require these engineering reports be submitted” said Andrew Weaver Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA, and Deputy Leader of the B.C. Green Party. “Furthermore the BC government has the responsibility to ensure that other tailings ponds are not at risk of failure. By analyzing those facilities and publishing the results, they will go a long way towards reassuring British Columbians that their government is looking out for their best interests.”
As the effort to address the immediate needs of the community and the environment in the area around the Mount Polley Tailings Pond disaster continues, the government must also turn their attention to other communities across British Columbia who may be facing similar risks.
“I spoke with First Nations leaders in this territory. I learned of their frustration due to the lack of communication by the government and operator, they are not getting any information,” said Adam Olsen, Leader of the B.C. Green Party. “They are very concerned about this situation and shared the fear that this will not be the only disaster.”
“This has been a wake up call for us all,” said Weaver. “The Minister admitted this accident should not have happened and it goes without saying we need a comprehensive assessment of our situation.”
Section 18 of the BC Mines Act empowers the government to order a mine operator to provide an independent study prepared by an engineer respecting the health and safety of its “equipment, buildings workings or structures…”.
“The provincial government should start with the Gibraltar mine just north of WIlliams Lake,” said Olsen. “People are really concerned with a toxic mining slurry making its way to the Fraser River, and so they should be, as it has the potential to shut down one of the largest sockeye runs in the world – forever. We could all rest a little easier knowing that facility is sound.”
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