By Jacinda Mack.
Quesnel Lake, BC — It is three years since Mount Polley Mine’s massive tailings dam collapsed, creating the biggest, most destructive mining waste disaster in Canadian history: 26 billion litres of waste rock, polluted water, heavy metals, and processing chemicals were dumped into drinking water and salmon bearing headwaters of the Fraser River Watershed.
First Nations and other communities living in the footprint of this Imperial Metals mine still live with the fear of the damage done and the ongoing risks — to the fervent denials of the company. The good news is the new BC government appears to have very different views from the old “mining first” Liberals. NDP Premier John Horgan and Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver have embraced the United Nations Declaration on Indigenous Rights, including free prior and informed consent. They have made positive statements about the environment and doing mining right.
While this may be encouraging for BC, there needs to be a national response to the serious flaws in the entire mining system exposed by Mount Polley. Our “local” fears should be shared by everyone in Canada and downstream in Alaska and beyond who live where massive mining and tailing ponds exist or are being proposed, and by anyone who cares about the environment.