News

Discharge of mining waste in B.C. forces water ban

By The Canadian Press

QUESNEL, B.C. - Authorities say the equivalent of 2,000 Olympic swimming pools of mining waste has been discharged into waterways in British Columbia's Cariboo region, forcing hundreds to stop using water in the area.

The tailings pond of the Mount Polley mine, about 140 kilometres southeast of Quesnel in northern B.C., was breached early Monday, forcing a water-use ban.

The Cariboo Regional District issued the advisory for the town of Likely and for residents around Quesnel Lake, Polley Lake, Hazeltine Creek and Cariboo Creek.

The initial water-use ban affected about 300 people, but that number was likely to grow since the advisory was expanded to include residents along the nearby Quesnel and Cariboo Rivers.

The Quesnel River is linked to the Fraser River, one of B.C.'s main arteries, but authorities have not imposed a water-use ban on communities by the Fraser, saying it is unclear if contaminants have gone that far.

The Ministry of Environment of B.C. says the extent of the environmental damage is not yet clear and water in the area will be tested in the coming days.

The Cariboo Regional District has posted a video on YouTube showing the breach and a river completely covered in what appears to be light grey mining waste.

District chairman Al Richmond said search and rescue crews evacuated some campers in the Mount Polley area. But shelters were not provided for them, as they appear to have set up camp elsewhere.

Richmond says most of the waste appears to be contained in Hazeltine Creek, though some of the material flowed into Quesnel Lake and Polley Lake.

Mount Polley is an open pit copper and gold mine owned by the Imperial Metals Corporation (TSX:III). The company has been involved on the construction or operation of seven mines, the majority in British Columbia.

Requests for comment from Imperial were not immediately returned.

Tailings ponds are often large bodies of water containing waste water from mines, and have been known to contain poisonous materials such as arsenic and mercury.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

You might like ...

Salmon Arm police officer not guilty
 
Prince Rupert LNG project delayed, others on track
 
Teacher strike cheques in the mail
Event has Penticton on a roll
 
Timeless bonds of friendship
 
Penticton neighbourhood up in signs
Prince Rupert students complete work on healing and reconciliation gift to government
 
Liberals, NDP spar over MMBC recycling rollout
 
Prince Rupert council candidates face the public at first forum

Community Events, October 2014

Add an Event

Read the latest eEdition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Oct 29 edition online now. Browse the archives.