Secwepemc establish checkpoint and camp to monitor Mount Polley disaster
Posted by Zig Zag
The Secwepemc have established a monitoring checkpoint and encampment at the entrance of the Imperial Metals’ Mount Polley Mine where, on August 4th 2014, the largest environmental disaster in British Columbia’s history unfolded as the damn to the mine’s tailings pond broke and unleashed 2.5 billion gallons of contaminated water and 4.5 million cubic metres of metals laden silt into Hazeltine Creek, Polley Lake and Quesnel Lake on the way to the Fraser River Watershed.
The checkpoint and camp began with the lighting of a sacred fire to call and strengthen people of all nations to stand up for the water, the land, the salmon and all of the other animals effected by the spill. The camp’s main objective is disaster monitoring, and to that end, camp members have been slowing down traffic and speaking with workers, contractors and delivery drivers coming and going from the site. We learned that at the mine, no one is talking about the spill, there is no clean up and there are no plans to clean up. We learned that some of these trucks coming in to site were delivering human solid waste and medical waste from Vancouver to be dumped into the empty pits and damns in the mine. We learned that none of the workers have been informed about the impacts and effects of the spill and that workers have been swimming in Polley lake, where the tailings are being emptied, without any biohazard suits, checking the pumps and removing dead fish.
We also spoke with Likely and area residents who were happy to see us maintaining a presence at the site. The visitors spoke of the loss to their communities and negative health effects already rippling through the area, as well as offered support and brought wood for the sacred fire, tools for the camp and food for camp members. More and more of the locals are gathering around the sacred fire looking to the camp for guidance and hope, and most importantly a unified front on this disaster.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs visited the fire, hung the Secwepemc-Okanagan Confederacy Flag and also donated needed supplies to the camp site. The camp was also visited by Alexandra Morton, a marine biologist, who after taking samples from the spill site described what she saw as hell, thick blue film on the water at Quesnel Lake, black bark falling from the trees nearby.
The RCMP have been monitoring the checkpoint, 4 members of the Williams lake detachment, including forensic identification officers and staff sergeants attempted to speak to camp members over the last two days of the encampment.
Work has not slowed down at the mine and camp members are logging a constant flow of 43,000 kg trucks coming in and out of the site carrying metals and chemicals.
We are keeping the sacred fire going and maintaining the camp, we need your help and your prayers. We welcome people to visit and join in solidarity and offer prayers to the fire for the water and strength to come together to find a better way out of this disaster.
On site contact: imperialnomore[at]gmail.com