LETTERS: Keep to your promises and keep mine water out of Quesnel Lake

Local residents continue to be concerned about Mount Polley Mine’s (MPMC) plan to discharge mine effluent into Quesnel Lake.

Editor:

Local residents continue to be concerned about Mount Polley Mine’s (MPMC) plan to discharge mine effluent into Quesnel Lake, rather than further downstream into Quesnel River, focusing on the “science” of BC Water Quality Guidelines (BCWQG), and not the science of protecting Quesnel Lake’s formerly pristine water.

Quotes from the BC Parks 2015 Quesnel Lake Park Management Plan:

“…Quesnel Lake; a lake which is provincially unique…the deepest lake in British Columbia and possibly the deepest fiord lake in the world…contain important habitat…support a host of (fish) species… streams, shores and wetlands of the park…designated…critical habitat for salmon and (blue listed) Bull Trout…Cariboo-Chilcotin Land Use Plan…part of a mosaic of habitat protection components connecting…aquatic and terrestrial species…”

Quotes from Premier Christy Clark and Ministry of Environment (MoE) Minister Mary Polak respectively:

“… a pristine resource for everybody…be with you, shoulder to shoulder…do everything…to return it to the real pristine beauty…this lake is for our province…this is just such an incredible, incredible asset…” (CBC News Aug. 8, 2014).

“… This is the very, very beginning…the scale of the initial disaster is tremendous…it is going to take a long time…the province hasn’t fully handed over trust in the company to do its work without government auditing and a strict call for reporting back…certainly an importance… above all else on…the safety of their environment…” (CBC News Nov. 24, 2014).

The results of the dam breach on Quesnel Lake two and a half years ago are still with us today, and the long-term impacts are not known. MPMC predictive models do not explain the continued effects seen on the lake by residents (“green” water that returns regularly, plugged water filters, slimey water, reduced insect hatches, changing water chemistry…).

The MoE says the decision to allow the long-term discharge of mine effluent into Quesnel Lake will be based on science, but science has not yet determined the short or long-term effects on the Quesnel Lake environment from the breach. Local residents requests for funding from the BC government for an independent technical review of the discharge plan and data has been a resounding not. Yet the Tribune (Nov. 9, 2016) reports “… funding for the MOE’s response to the breach has been reduced…”.

Christy Clark promised that Quesnel Lake would be returned back to its “pristine beauty”. The government appears ready to extend the “temporary” discharge into a permanent discharge, even though Mary Polak said it would “take a long time “ before the breach effects can be determined and mitigated.

Quesnel Lake is unique, and with so many “science” unknowns, and MoE regulatory oversight reduced, how will the government ensure Quesnel Lake is returned back to its original pristine state, with high quality water supporting a wide range of aquatic life (including the large Gerrard type Rainbow Trout)?  The Quesnel River is a very viable alternative discharge location that reduces the continued loading of Quesnel Lake. Cost and convenience for Imperial Metals is not the best basis for making such important decisions.

Doug Watt

Likely Chamber Liaison