By Gordon Hoekstra.
The B.C. NDP government says it will determine why a deadline to lay provincial regulatory charges was missed in an investigation over Imperial Metals’ Mount Polley tailings dam failure.
The three-year time limit to lay charges under B.C.’s Environmental Management Act ended Friday.
The B.C. Conservation Officer Service-led investigation continues in conjunction with Environment Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, but officials have not been able to say when it will be complete.
Federal charges are still possible under the Fisheries Act.
On Friday, Premier John Horgan said he was shocked to learn that no provincial charges will be laid in the 2014 dam collapse.
One of the largest dam failures in the world in the past 50 years, the Mount Polley collapse released millions of cubic metres of effluent and finely-ground rock containing potentially toxic metals into waterways, including Quesnel Lake, the migratory pathway for more than one million sockeye salmon.
Others also weighed in Friday citing disappointment over the lack of charges, including the federal NDP and Amnesty International.
With the support of several environmental groups — including Mining Watch Canada and West Coast Environmental Law — former Xat’sull First Nation chief Bev Sellars announced Friday she had filed private charges in provincial court under B.C.’s Environmental Management Act and the Mining Act over the Mount Polley dam failure. In a statement, she said she hoped the private charges could act as a “doorstopper,” buying time for the investigation to be completed and the potential for the province to carry on with charges.