Scene of the Mount Polley mine tailings pond collapse on Aug. 4.

Scene of the Mount Polley mine tailings pond collapse on Aug. 4.

Mount Polley mine spill tests ‘reassuring’

Elevated levels of elements not unusual near mines, officials say following continued consistent tests

There’s no cause for people to worry about human health risks from the Mount Polley mine tailings spill despite some elevated levels of contaminants in the latest sediment tests, according to an Interior Health official.

“The results are quite reassuring,” medical health officer Dr. Trevor Corneil said Friday after the release of new tests conducted Aug. 12 and 15, adding clean water without suspended sediment that’s outside the impact zone continues to be safe to drink.

“The water continues to be safe, the fish continue to be safe, if normal food and water practices are undertaken.”

That includes not drinking cloudy water or eating the sediment within the spill impact zone itself, where Corneil said “slightly elevated” arsenic levels have been found, along with copper, iron, manganese, silver, selenium and vanadium.

Elevated levels of various elements are to be expected at an active mine, he said.

Corneil noted arsenic is naturally occurring and measurable in most water sources.

Background data from samples taken last spring show there were previously elevated levels of the same contaminants – though not to the same extent – in Quesnel Lake and Hazeltine Creek prior to the disaster, environment ministry regional operations director Jenninfer McGuire told reporters.

She said the arsenic concentration tested far below a national guideline for human consumption.

Tests released the previous week indicated higher levels of selenium in the gonads and livers of fish meant someone who consumed more than a cup a day of those fish organs would exceed human consumption guidelines, but not if they just ate the flesh.

The Aug. 4 breach of the tailings pond dam caused concern among First Nations and other fishery users that Fraser River salmon might be contaminated.

The province is shifting to an audit role as Mount Polley mine owner Imperial Metals embarks on a long-term monitoring plan that McGuire said is required to measure any potential impacts on aquatic life.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Researchers in B.C. say earlier than usual return of bats or dead bats can indicate trouble, such as signs of white-nose syndrome. (Cathy Koot photo)
Public help is essential for monitoring for bat disease

Anyone finding a dead bat is asked to report it to the BC Community Bat Program

Sandi Griffiths is the region’s new district manager of transportation for the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
New MOTI district manager takes the wheel in Williams Lake

Sandi Griffiths replaces Todd Hubner who retired recently

Mclean Silverton rides a rail in Boitanio Park - one of seven new features installed by the city this past week. (Greg Sabatino photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Snow park in Boitanio open for riding

If any users find that the park requires attention, please contact city hall at 250-392-2311

A snowfall warning has been issued for Williams Lake and Quesnel. (Black Press Media)
Snowfall warning issued for Cariboo region

Between 10 to 15 cm expected

Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP) co-ordinator Surinderpal Rathor (from left) Judy Gibbons and Rajneesh Khugsal, seen here in 2020, are all ready to help people file their taxes. (Patrick Davies photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Williams Lake volunteers ready to offer community income tax program

Co-ordinator Surinderpal Rathor said he has already received inquiries

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Doctors and counsellors warn of an increase in panic attacks, anxiety, depression and suicide ideas between ages 10 to 14, in Campbell River. ( Black Press file photo)
Extended pandemic feeding the anxieties of B.C.’s youth

Parents not sure what to do, urged to reach out for help

Most Read