VANCOUVER — An Indigenous women has filed private charges in 2014 collapse of the tailings dam at the Mount Polley mine, days after British Columbia’s government announced that provincial charges would not be laid.
Bev Sellers has filed court documents alleging that Mount Polley Mining Corp. polluted the environment when a tailings dam burst, sending 24 million cubic metres of mine waste into local waterways.
Sellers was the acting chief of the Xat’sull First Nation, located near the gold and copper mine in B.C.’s Cariboo region, when the dam collapsed on Aug. 4 three years ago.
The 15 charges, filed in Vancouver provincial court under both the provincial Environmental Act and the Mines Act, come after the newly elected NDP government announced Wednesday there would be no provincial charges laid by Friday’s three-year deadline.
Sellers said in a news release that she couldn’t let the alleged pollution go.
“In my culture, we have a sacred responsibility not only to care for the land, waters, animals, and people living today, but also for the next seven generations to come,” said Sellers, whose legal action is being by supported by MiningWatch Canada, West Coast Environmental Law, the Wilderness Committee and the First Nation Women Advocating for Responsible Mining.
“I could not bear to witness B.C. simply stepping aside and giving-up on its own responsibility to protect our shared environment and waters.”
An investigation into the dam’s collapse is ongoing by the B.C.’s Conservation Officer Service, but earlier this week the agency’s deputy chief Chris Doyle couldn’t say what stage the probe was at.
B.C. Premier John Horgan said Friday he was shocked to learn that provincial charges were not being laid.