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Q&A on sediment sample results

Q. How do these results compare to other lakes/sediment/lands in the area?

A. Currently, the focus is on the impacts to Quesnel Lake and Polley Lake. No other comparisons have been made at this time as each lake system is unique. Long-term monitoring and remediation will continue in the affected areas.

Often areas where mines are located have elevated levels of metals, meaning naturally occurring metal concentrations could be much greater in this region than elsewhere in the province.

Q. Is it safe to walk on the sediment or drink water from the tested areas?

A. Currently, an order is in place to restrict access to Hazeltine Creek as a safety precaution due to the tailings blocking the outlets of Polley Lake into Hazeltine Creek.

The sediment results were collected from sediments under water within the restricted access area. The public does not have access to this restricted area.

Q. If certain levels of minerals are higher than normal, how do we know that won’t seep into the drinking water?

A. Interior Health is the responsible organization for drinking water. However, science tells us that the metals are not likely to readily move from the sediment into the water, and are therefore not likely to present a risk to future water quality. Leachability tests, to be conducted in the next few days, should confirm this.

Q. What will the impact be on wildlife (including deer/bears/fish that may ingest, swim in or walk on the sediment)?

A. The focus currently is on human health, and that will soon be shifting to wildlife. The company is required under the Pollution Abatement Order to submit a comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment and Action Plan which will include a fish and wildlife impact assessment and long-term monitoring program for the affected area. A submission was received by the ministry on August 15. The ministry is reviewing the information.

Q. What is the effect of elevated copper and iron to fish?

A. At this point it has not yet been determined if the copper detected in the sampling is in a form the will affect the various life stages of fish in the lake.

Further analysis of the sediment samples, to be conducted as soon as possible, will provide further data to help answer this question.Iron and nickel levels appear to be naturally elevated and as such would not be expected to have negative effects on fish.

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