Letter: Response to mine disaster a sad sign of times

I am a full time resident of Likely who has been attending meetings and following the editorials on the Mount Polley Mine disaster Aug. 4.

Editor:

I am a full time resident of Likely who has been attending meetings and following the editorials on the Mount Polley Mine disaster of Aug. 4.

When I first heard of the spill, I was confident that mining executives, politicians and experts would follow through on their promises to save our lake and prevent the huge amounts of sludge on the valley walls of Hazeltine Creek from washing down into our watershed and that the government investigations would bring swift retribution to those who contributed to this disaster.

Now that the autumn rains have arrived, I see that all of the predictions of a cover-up rather than a clean-up are coming true.

My letter to the Prime Minister of Sept. 2 with cc’s to all department heads of Justice, Resources and Environment was basically ignored.

It was just recently answered by a “correspondence officer” from the office of the Prime Minister.

No one that was cc’d responded, at all.

The reply was fluff without even a suggestion that my questions would be followed up by any further correspondence.

I have lost faith in the system.  Our lake is polluted and will become more polluted before this is over.

It will take decades and a government more committed to environmental issues to clean this up sometime in the distant future.

For now, it is inevitable that the disaster is a permanent feature that will affect our unique lake and the wildlife around it for a very long time.

Quesnel Lake has already noticeably changed colour to a yellowish-green, with all the now visible thick sediments in the plume covering the bottom of the shallows of the Likely Narrows.

I listen to the words, but I look at the end result, and what I see is that no clean-up has happened in the Hazeltine Creek Valley where the deep layers of sludge are, and the only evidence of any kind of clean-up is a series of little piles of sticks along the lakeshore.

All of the damning revelations in the newspapers are virtually ignored, (I haven’t seen any retractions), and the government officials continue to do their spin on these incriminating facts to get through this nasty business as lily white as possible so they can get back to business as usual.

I am thoroughly disgusted with the way prize areas such as this are minimized and reduced to cesspools for profit.

All that talk of conservation is a superficial concern where the government is concerned.

It’s all about the money and the lifestyles of the rich and powerful.

It is too late to save our lake.  It is finished, and so is the natural environment dependent on it.

The spring run-off will take it to its final conclusion.

The mine knows it, the government knows it, and they are just playing at their attempts to fix it, other than repairing the dam, their first priority, so they can get on with more important things, like increasing production.

Now that the lake is polluted it will be easier for the mine to get the permits to send more effluent into our watershed.

We are not an enlightened generation, even after the demonstrations of the 60s.

The newly formed “Environmental” departments are completely ineffectual when it counts.

They don’t even have laws that allow for suitable enforcement.

The only option for keeping disasters like this from happening is a “strongly worded letter” to the offender.

Like the stages of death, I am now past shock, disbelief and anger and am moving into the inevitable stage of acceptance and bereavement.  It is done.  The funeral will be in June, 2015, when the last of the sludge will be carried down Hazeltine into Quesnel Lake and the Fraser watershed.

Catherine Wright

Likely