Disciplinary hearings have been announced for three people in relation to the 2014 Mount Polley Mine tailings impoundment breach that released contained water and mine tailings into Polley Lake, Hazeltine Creek and Quesnel Lake.
Engineers and Geoscientists British Columbia, the licensing and regulatory body for these professions in B.C., announced the hearings Wednesday noting they mark the conclusion of a lengthy, independent investigation conducted by Engineers and Geoscientists BC.
The regulator’s investigation committee alleges that three individuals involved in the design, construction, and monitoring of the tailings storage facility demonstrated negligence and, or unprofessional conduct in the course of their professional activities.
At this stage, the allegations have not been heard by a disciplinary panel and are unproven.
The investigation was led by a three-person subcommittee of senior professionals from Engineers and Geoscientists BC’s Investigation Committee.
During the course of its investigation, the subcommittee received more than 13,000 documents for review, including contracts, reports, correspondence, and daily site reports.
In addition, it considered the reports resulting from other public investigations conducted by the Independent Expert Engineering Investigation and Review Panel and the Chief Inspector of Mines.
Following the breach, Engineers and Geoscientists BC took actions to improve dam safety in BC, which included producing professional practice guidelines for site characterization for dam foundations in BC, updating existing guidelines to confirm the duties of the “Engineer of Record,” and holding professional development seminars.
A Notice of Inquiry, which outlines the specific allegations, has been issued to each of the three individuals — Laura Fidel, Stephen Rice and Todd Martin.
The disciplinary hearings are scheduled for 2019.
If allegations are proven at the conclusion of a disciplinary hearing, Engineers and Geoscientists BC can impose sanctions under the Engineers and Geoscientists Act, which can include a reprimand, practice restrictions, suspension, cancellation of membership, or a fine of up to $25,000 – the maximum allowable under the Act – and can require those subject to the disciplinary process to pay legal costs to Engineers and Geoscientists BC.
An open house is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 29 at the Quesnel River Research Centre to share findings into the impacts of the breach on Quesnel Lake.