In response to the August 5 tailing pond dam breach at the Mount Polley Mine, City of Williams Lake Mayor Kerry Cook has made the following statement:
“I travelled to the Likely area yesterday with MLA Donna Barnett and Hon. Coralee Oakes and saw first-hand the scope of the damage.
“Despite the overwhelming nature of this incident, I was heartened to see the community, First Nations, and local and provincial governments all working together to find answers and to heal.
“The Esk’etemc Seqwyitsk ceremony at the Likely Bridge near the Mount Polley site brought everyone together and provided an important opportunity for everyone to express their emotions and provide blessings. The fact that Premier Christy Clark was in attendance speaks volumes to how important this issue is to the Province, as well as to our communities.
“It is a relief to hear that the initial Ministry of Environment water quality testing shows that the toxicity of the water spilled into Polley and Quesnel Lakes is not as bad as feared. We hope that the water restrictions are lifted once the testing has been complete, and that a thorough cleanup can begin soon. We also look forward to the investigation into how this occurred, to prevent similar incidents. As has been reported, the water used by City of Williams Lake residents has not been affected by the dam breach.
“This dam breach has created an unprecedented environmental disaster for the Likely and Quesnel Lake areas, and overnight, it has taken both the mine and tourism opportunities from the region for at least the near future. There is no doubt that this has far-reaching effects for all of the residents, business owners, First Nations, and employees affected. They are our family, our friends, and our neighbours.
“We will continue to be in contact with the Cariboo Regional District and with industry, and we are prepared to work together as the Likely area faces a local state of emergency during this time of uncertainty. The Cariboo Regional District, Mount Polley Mine and the Ministry of Environment quickly mobilized to address the situation, and continue to provide valuable support and information.
“As most Mount Polley employees are City residents, and the mine and tourism operators purchase equipment and supplies in Williams Lake, there is no doubt this incident will affect Williams Lake. The strength and helpfulness of our residents is once again evident, with businesses offering support and residents opening their homes to those affected. Patience will be required as the investigation unfolds to determine how we will be able to move forward after this terrible incident.”
To receive accurate, updated information from the CRD regarding the Mount Polley dam breach, please access the Emergency Operations Centre page at https://www.facebook.com/CRDEmergencyOperations.