Disaster like Mount Polley ‘must never be allowed to happen again’
The day before the B.C. government is set to table its 2018 budget, the Minister of Environment said he will soon be announcing a review of the province’s environmental assessment process to help address a lack of faith in the system.
His comments came in response to questions from Sonia Furstenau, the deputy leader of the BC Greens, who asked why the province is not pursuing charges against Imperial Metals following the 2014 Mount Polley mine disaster.
Under provincial law B.C. had three years to lay charges in connection to the dam failure that left millions of cubic feet of tailings from the copper and gold mine flowing into surrounding waterways, including critical salmon habitat
….Environment Minister George Heyman said the decision not to pursue charges was made independently by the B.C. Prosecution Service. A cooperative investigation involving both provincial and federal officials is ongoing and Heyman said he has received assurances that it will be completed well within the five-year statute of limitations for the federal government to lay charges. “The penalties under federal law, including the possibility of criminal prosecution are far more severe than those in BC. If they are warranted I am confident the investigation underway will support them,” Heyman said.
In the meantime, the government is undertaking reviews of the environmental system in B.C., Heyman said, adding that an environmental disaster the likes of Mount Polley “must never be allowed to happen again.”