There is a lot of talk recently about a restart of the Mt. Polley Mine but there are numerous questions that need to be answered first.
If Government was responsible for overseeing mining operations, including the tailings facility, then Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett should have been forced to resign soon after the worst disaster in B.C. mining history. If the mine was allowed to monitor its own tailings dam, then a judicial inquiry should be held to determine who made the decisions that caused the breach. Why wasn’t the tailings facility built on the other side of the mountain, instead of in a direct line with Quesnel Lake?
A quote from an opinion editorial in the Vancouver Sun of Feb. 11, “the dam failed because it wasn’t built and used properly, while the Minister’s responsibility was to make sure that it was.”
The news from the research team from UNBC is not good. The tailings sludge sediment, containing several toxic heavy metals, has now dispersed throughout the West arm of Quesnel Lake up to the junction of the North arm, and eventually will pollute the entire lake, one of the clearest, deepest fjord lakes in the world. From their extensive sampling and testing of the waters they determined concentrations of heavy metals and toxins like arsenic and mercury spiked in December when the lake turned over, and reached unacceptable levels. This will happen again in April.
Upwelling and intrusions in the lake and its unique “rocking” motion will cause more dispersion. Bioaccumulation of the poisonous elements in the several species of trout and salmon inhabit these waters is a major concern.
Politicians, both local and provincial, don’t seem to understand the seriousness of what happened. Maybe they don’t care, because business and money is their focus. Industry provides revenue for government in the form of taxes and royalties. Businesses just want the money to keep coming in.
There needs to be accountability for what has happened, and penalties assessed. Industry is allowed to have its way with our resources and government is complicit in their irresponsible attitude. Behind it all is money, as usual. Some of us are closer to Earth than people sitting in their offices in Calgary or Vancouver who don’t care.