Aerial photo shows work to contain Mount Polley tailings after dam breach at the mine near Williams Lake Aug. 4.

Opposition demands Mount Polley reports

Environment Minister Mary Polak says inspection results stay under wraps until mine tailings spill investigations are complete

VICTORIA – The B.C. government released its latest water test results from the Mount Polley mine spill area Thursday, but refused a demand by opposition politicians to release inspection reports on the mine and tailings dam that collapsed Aug. 4.

Environment Minister Mary Polak said the water results showed “slightly” elevated levels of aluminum and copper in water samples from Quesnel Lake, but water remains safe to drink in the area affected by the plume of tailings in the lake.

Polak said all information related to health and safety of area residents has been made public, but she is complying with a request from investigators not to release inspection reports until multiple investigations are complete.

Polak released an Oct. 6 letter from B.C. Chief Inspector of Mines Al Hoffman, who is supervising one investigation of the dam failure. Hoffman said mine experts are examining “all documents relating to the history, design, construction, operation and maintenance of the tailings facility” and have interviewed more than 50 people.

“I share the concern with the Ministry of Justice that the public release of information related to the tailings facility at Mount Polley may impact investigations by tainting evidence of persons yet to be interviewed or re-interviewed,” Hoffman wrote.

Imperial Metals issued a statement last week in response to a Vancouver newspaper report that a 2010 inspection report described a crack found in the Mount Polley dam.

The crack was 900 metres away from the area of the August breach, and “was thought to be associated with localized settlement of loosely compacted material along the downstream slope of the embankment,” the company said.

NDP energy and mines critic Norm Macdonald referred to reduced inspections at a coal mine in the Kootenays, and a memo from a ministry official in 2010 warning of the risks of reducing mine inspections.

Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett maintains that annual inspections of Mount Polley and other mines with tailings ponds were not reduced, although other inspections were less frequent.


Just Posted

Need to catch up on news? You’re covered

Every Saturday the Capital News will highlight stories from the week

Big White board school among best

Director of snow sports, Josh Foster, is one of the top instructors in Canada

Seniors prefer funeral to lifestyle planning

Survey finds 73% of seniors have a will, only 13% have long-term care plan

Okanagan College business students soar

Medal winners at Western Canadian Business Competition

UBCO civil engineer touts cohousing option

Gord Lovegrove says cohousing is sustainable social and economic lifestyle

VIDEO: B.C. Mounties reunite veteran with lost military medals

RCMP say Zora Singh Tatla, who served in the army in India for 28 years, is the righful owner

4 facts to ring in St. Patrick’s Day

What do you really know about the Irish celebration?

Experts urging caution as rabbits die by the hundreds in B.C. city

Province of B.C. confirms more positive tests for rabbit haemorrhagic disease

Federal government seeks public feedback on pedestrian safety

What safety measures do you think need to improved for pedestrians and cyclists?

Search continues for 10-year-old Montreal boy missing since Monday

Montreal police said they are exploring every possibility in search for Ariel Jeffrey Kouakou

Airline passenger-rights bill claws back protections for travellers: Advocate

Bill C-49 would double tarmac delays, scrap compensation for flights affected by mechanical failures

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Canadian research vessel to explore 19th Century shipwrecks

Commissioned this week in Victoria, the RV David Thompson is Parks Canada’s newest vessel

UPDATED: ‘New wave’ of anti-pipeline protests return to Trans Mountain facility

About 100 demonstrators with Protect the Inlet marched to the Burnaby terminal Saturday

Most Read