DeSmog – No Charges, No Fines For Mount Polley Mine Disaster as Three-Year Legal Deadline Approaches.
By Carol Linnitt.
Considered one of the worst environmental disasters in Canadian history, the failure of the Mount Polley tailings pond sent an estimated 25 million cubic metres of contaminated mine waste flooding into Quesnel Lake, a source of drinking water for local residents of Likely, B.C., on August 4, 2014.
“I would have expected something to have happened by now,” fisheries biologist and Likely resident Richard Holmes told DeSmog Canada. “I know they had a lot of information to sift through but it has been three years. I’m hopeful there will be some charges forthcoming.”
While the time limit for provincial charges runs out in August, federal charges, including for violations of the Fisheries Act, can be brought for another two years. An investigation is ongoing by the Conservation Service Office, aided by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Environment and Climate Change Canada.
Meanwhile, the B.C. government granted Mount Polley permission to drain the mine directly into Quesnel Lake, where the vast majority of the spilled mine waste remains to this day. The B.C. government also gave Imperial Metals the go-ahead to build the Red Chris Mine in northwestern B.C., with the same tailings technology used at Mount Polley — despite experts recommending otherwise.
“I think the mining company is ahead now,” Holmes said. “Everything seems to have fallen in their favour since this disaster. Before the disaster they were looking at building a water treatment facility. Now they have basically a large filter in place and they just release everything directly into the lake.” “I’m sure they’re happy about that.”