The Tyee – Mount Polley Disaster Brought Quick Government PR Response, Documents Show. Three-year-old FOI request reveals early belief laws broken and co-ordination with mine owner.
The Tyee – Mount Polley Disaster Brought Quick Government PR Response, Documents Show. Three-year-old FOI request reveals early belief laws broken and co-ordination with mine owner. By Jeremy J. Nuttall
In the hours after the 2014 Mount Polley mine disaster, authorities were already concerned laws had been broken and the premier’s office was worried fallout from the tailing pond breach would “get in the way” of other planned mines, documents provided to The Tyee reveal.
Almost three years after the disaster, and weeks away from a deadline to lay charges under B.C.’s environment act, no charges have been laid and no fines levied. The government’s initial reaction to the dam’s collapse is revealed in hundreds of pages of emails and other communications obtained through a freedom of information request and provided to The Tyee by Jessica Ross, an independent researcher and member of the BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association. Ross said she filed the FOI request almost three years ago and only received the documents July 4.
An email exchange between Staff Sgt. Kelly Dahl of the province’s Conservation Officer Service major investigations unit and Sgt. Richard Lebeuf of the Williams Lake RCMP documents raised concerns laws had been broken. “From the Ministry of Environment’s perspective — It appears there are several possible violations of environmental legislation that may have occurred related to this event,” Dahl wrote.
He also expressed concern the federal Fisheries Act may have been broken. Meanwhile, as officials assessed the damage done, some government staff were working to manage public reaction to the spill.