Just a couple days away from the two-year anniversary of the Mount Polley tailings pond disaster, a First Nations group says it plans to protest against the mine re-opening.
Kanahus Manuel with the Secwepmc Women’s Warrior Society says it’s too early for the government to give Imperial Metals the green light.
“Technicians that we work with, they’re giving the statistic that on average, there’s going to be two tailings pond breaches like that within a decade. We can’t afford that. The province has shown us they are not competent.”
Serious lack of consultation
Manuel also says the government failed to consult with the Secwepmc First Nations.
Because of that, members of different First Nations will set up camp on Thursday at the entrance of the mine with a clear message.
“We’re going to shut Imperial Metals down. It’s not just here at Mount Polley but they have Imperial Metals project across the province that Indigenous people are unhappy with salmon creeks.”
Manuel says the government is failing to protect the environment.
“It’s not meeting our standard. They are not protecting the environment, or our salmon, or our water.”
The backstory: Mount Polley disaster of 2014
The tailings pond burst in August 2014, spilling 24 million cubic metres of waste water into local rivers and lakes.
Deemed the biggest environmental disaster in modern BC history, the Mount Polley Mine disaster occurred when a partial breach of the tailings pond dam released slurry into both Polley Lake and Quesnel Lake.
Imperial Metals goes uncharged
No charges were laid against Imperial Metals, the operator of the Mount Polley mine, after the catastrophic breach.
B.C. chief inspector of mines Al Hoffman released 19 recommendations on how to prevent a disaster like this in the future.
“The findings and lessons learned bring a heightened awareness, which confirm the status quo is no longer acceptable. There are complexities within mining operations that need to be continuously anticipated, integrated and managed.”
Mines Minister Bill Bennett says the government will accept all of the report’s recommendations.
Bennett also said that though the company may have avoided charges, they were still required to repair the tailings pond and re-mediate the affected land, at a cost upwards of $70 million.
A report by an independent panel of geo-technical engineers found the breach was caused by flaws in the dam design that caused it’s foundation to fail.