A plan is approved to reduce water levels in Polley Lake

The Ministry of Environment has approved a pipe plan to reduce the water level in Polley Lake, and monitor water quality.

  • Aug. 8, 2014 5:00 a.m.

The following is the latest information from the Ministry of Environment with regards to the Mt. Polley mine tailings pond breach.

Due to public safety issues posed by a potential release of further sediment and debris that has built up at Polley Lake, the Ministry of Environment has approved Imperial Metals plan to reduce the water level by constructing a pipeline to Hazeltine Creek which will flow downstream into Quesnel Lake.

This water will be tested daily.

Water samples taken from five locations in Quesnel River on Aug. 5, 2014, have been tested and confirm all samples meet provincial and federal drinking water guidelines for a second straight day.

Initial water samples have also been taken from the shore of Polley Lake and have been sent for testing. These samples are being taken from the point where water is being diverted to lower the levels in Polley Lake. It is still unsafe to access the lake by boat, to get samples from different depths and locations. However, these surface samples will be a good early indicator of whether or not the water meets drinking water guidelines. These preliminary results are expected over the weekend.

Environment Minister Mary Polak along with Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development Coralee Oakes, MLA for Cariboo North, and Donna Barnett, MLA for Cariboo-Chilcotin, met with Chiefs of several First Nations from the central interior this morning to discuss next steps in the process and how the Province and First Nations can work together.

The Conservation Officer Service is requesting the public’s assistance in their investigation into the cause of the tailings pond breach. There are six Major Investigation Unit (MIU) investigators currently assigned to the investigation. The COS has full authority to independently handle investigations and forward recommendations for charges directly to provincial crown counsel.

If the public has any information, they are asked to call the Report all Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) line at 1 877 952-7277 or online at: www.env.gov.bc.ca/cos/rapp/form.htm

More information regarding response to the Mount Polley mine incident can be viewed here: http://wwwt.env.gov.bc.ca/eemp/incidents/2014/mount-polley.htm

Date: August 07, 2014

Re: Quesnel Lake Water Quality of August 5, 2014 compared to Drinking Water

and Aquatic Life Guidelines

Ministry of Environment Staff collected water quality samples at several locations in Quesnel

Lake and/or Quesnel River on a daily basis since August 4, 2014, the day of the Mt. Polley

Tailings Dam Breach to determine potential impacts on drinking water quality and aquatic life.

The Parameters analysed so far include pH, conductivity, turbidity, total suspended solids, total

dissolved solids, hardness, alkalinity, nutrients, general ions, total and dissolved metals, and

E.coli.

On August August 5th water samples were collected from the following sites in Quesnel River:

• Quesnel River upstream Island on North Shore

• Quesnel River upstream Likely Bridge on North Side

• Quesnel River downstream Narrows on South Shore

• Quesnel River upstream Narrows on North Shore

• Quesnel River downstream Cedar Pt. Park at North Shore

Analysis of these samples indicate that none of the chemical and physical parameter

concentrations exceeded BC or Health Canada Drinking Water Guidelines at these sites on

August 5, 2014.

E.coli concentrations were below or just above the guideline at typical concentrations for rivers

and lakes in BC and well below the disinfection and partial treatment guidelines. The detected

value of 1 E.coli / 100mL is not necessarily a result of the tailings discharge.

Fish tissue samples will be collected on August 8, 2014. Generally bio-accumulation of

contaminants in fish muscle tissue occurs over a longer exposure time than a few days.

Gabriele Matscha, RPBio.,

Impact Assessment Section Head – Mining

Environmental Protection Division – Ministry of Environment

Date: August 07, 2014

Re: Quesnel Lake Water Quality of August 5, 2014 compared to Aquatic Life

Guidelines

Ministry of Environment Staff collected water quality samples at several locations in Quesnel

Lake and/or Quesnel River on a daily basis since August 4, 2014, the day of the Mt. Polley

Tailings Dam Breach, to determine potential impacts on drinking water quality and aquatic life.

The Parameters analysed so far include pH, conductivity, turbidity, total suspended solids, total

dissolved solids, hardness, alkalinity, nutrients, general ions, total and dissolved metals, and

E.coli.

On August August 5th water samples were collected from the following sites in Quesnel River:

• Quesnel River upstream Island on North Shore

• Quesnel River upstream Likely Bridge on North Side

• Quesnel River upstream Narrows on North Shore

• Quesnel River downstream Narrows on South Shore

• Quesnel River downstream Cedar Pt. Park at North Shore

Analysis of these samples indicate that the concentrations of most of the parameters were below

BC Aquatic Life Guidelines at these sites on August 5, 2014.

The current acute Cadmium Guideline is recognized as outdated and a new DRAFT Guideline of 0.165 μg per liter has been developed .

The concentrations measured at the above sites are well below this DRAFT guideline, thus not expected to have an impact on aquatic life.

However, the chronic Aquatic Life Guideline for Zinc was exceeded significantly at all above sites. As chronic guidelines relate to long term exposure, the exceedance of the chronic Zinc guideline by a single sample taken does not indicate an impact to aquatic life.

Further samples will be collected to identify whether this concentration remains at this level over a longer period, which would indicate a greater potential impact to the most sensitive aquatic life.

Gabriele Matscha, RPBio., Impact Assessment Section Head – Mining

Environmental Protection Division – Ministry of Environment

 

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