Sierra Club BC Calls for Independent Investigation of Mount Polley Disaster
Sierra Club BC is calling on the British Columbia government to establish a committee of experts, independent from industry and government, to investigate the Mount Polley disaster. The committee should identify the necessary steps to prevent future tailing pond catastrophes in mines across the province, making their initial findings public within six month and producing a final report due within one year.
The environmental organization also calls on the province to ramp up all efforts to restore the devastated and polluted areas near the mine, and ensure Imperial Metals spends the necessary money to support the affected communities and the health of the local people.
“We are very concerned about the lack of monitoring and enforcement by the provincial government prior to this disaster,” said Sierra Club BC’s Forest and Climate Campaigner, Jens Wieting. “Relying on industry to monitor their own behaviour is pure folly. Now we are facing possible contamination of drinking water, of salmon populations and the whole web of life in the Cariboo region.”
Despite years of warnings about the stability of the Mount Polley tailings pond and the absence of a plan for safe storage of the growing mining waste, the province did not withdraw the mine’s operational permits.
In the last few years, mines across the province, with tailing ponds like Mount Polley, have boosted their production of gold, copper and other metals because of favourable market conditions. As a result, tailing ponds are filling up faster than projected and many mines are seeking permits to discharge effluents to reduce the accumulated water level.
“This disaster is sickening both in terms of scope and scale of the environmental devastation and the massive failure of environmental standards and enforcement. We need a full independent investigation to get to the bottom of the systemic failures that led to this disaster which should never have been allowed to happen. The system is broken and we need to fix it as soon as possible.”
The Mount Polley catastrophe should be wake up call for British Columbia. Imperial Metals, the same company responsible for the Mount Polley disaster, is also pursuing a copper mine and a gold mine project in Clayoquot Sound on Vancouver Island, against wide-spread opposition.
We encourage you to write to the premier and minister of mines and energy asking for an independent inquiry into the Mount Polley disaster.
Watch a CTV clip about the devastation at Mount Polley mine and past warnings about the catastrophic risks.
Read more about the Imperial Metals Clayoquot Sound mining proposals in the Times Colonist.
Listen to a CFAX interview with Sierra Club Campaigner Jens Wieting (starts at minute 36).