B.C. announces independent investigation into tailings pond breach
Published Friday, August 15, 2014 3:48AM PDT
Last Updated Monday, August 18, 2014 7:43PM PDT
Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett says the province will have an independent panel investigate the Mount Polley Mine disaster.
Bennett announced the investigation in a news conference Monday morning.
Imperial Metals, the company that owns the breached pond, will foot the bill for the three-party panel. The findings are expected to be released on Jan. 21, 2015.
Bennett also announced an independent third-party review of every tailings pond in B.C.
The announcement comes two days after officials found the spilled mining waste to be non-toxic for humans – but that it may harm aquatic life.
Many locals and First Nations have raised concerns about how fish in the area will be impacted by the tailings pond spill, which released 10 million cubic metres of waste water and 4.5 million cubic metres of silt into Polley Lake.
The total volume is equivalent to 5,800 Olympic swimming pools.
The findings are based on samples of silt taken Aug. 10 near the mouth of Hazeltine Creek and near Raft Creek. Much of the waste poured from Polley Lake into Hazeltine Creek and flowed down into Raft Creek and Quesnel Lake.
Environment Minister Mary Polak said the area is considered contaminated under provincial regulations and Imperial Metals, the company that owns the breached pond, must show the government how it will address the situation.
With files from The Canadian Press