The vast majority of Likely Chamber of Commerce members do not support Mount Polley Mine discharging effluent into Quesnel Lake.
On Tuesday, Dec. 6, the chamber held a secret ballot vote asking members whether the mine should be permitted to continue discharging mine effluent into the lake.
Twenty-four members voted no and six members voted yes, said Judith Pringle, who is part of the ad hoc group Concerned Citizens of Quesnel Lake (CCQL).
In August 2014, the mine’s tailing impoundment facility breached and in December 2015, the mine began treating and discharging water from the site through two diffuser pipes into the lake.
Through its long-term water management plan, Mount Polley has requested to continue discharging water into the lake.
“We believe that this is a small step in the right direction of ensuring that all industry is responsible in the way that they do business,” Pringle said of the vote’s result.
Before the vote, a letter from the group was read out at the chamber meeting, Pringle said.
In the letter, the group said after reviewing the technical assessment report they believe that dilution is not a solution and all mine effluent needs to be fully treated in order to match the standard of water found in the lake prior to the breach.
“In terms of benefit to risk, the receiving environment water users are being asked to absorb all the risk while Mount Polley Mine Corporation and their shareholders and the province of B.C. will reap the benefits,” the letter stated.
Don Barnes, of Williams Lake, was one of the chamber members that voted no.
Barnes has owned a summer home on Quesnel Lake for 36 years, located about four kilometres toward Likely from Hazeltine Creek.
“The vote came about because there was a bit of dissension among the chamber about discharge into Quesnel Lake,” Barnes said.
Barnes said the breach happened and nothing can be done to go back, however, he does not think “stuff” should be dumped into the lake.
“I think we need to go with higher technology to try and help the lake heal,” he said.
Since the breach, Barnes said he has noticed higher turbidity in the lake and slime on the rocks along the shoreline, two things that were not there before.
“That green tinge that comes and goes — we never had that either. When a big wind blew up two weeks ago it stirred up the lake. Before the breach, when that happened the lake would be relatively clear, but now we cannot see the bottom,” Barnes said.
Mount Polley declined to comment at this time.