There go those fish and everything thats coming upstream is dead!

Discussion in 'Conservation, Fishery Politics and Management.' started by KV1, Aug 5, 2014.

  1. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member

  2. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member

    Metal Mining Effluent Regulations (SOR/2002-222) SCHEDULE 2 (Subsections 5(1) and 27.1(1)):

    3. South Kemess Creek, British Columbia
    That part of South Kemess Creek being within the watershed of that tributary of South Kemess Creek

    (a) extending eastwards and upstream from the centre of a tailings dam constructed at 57°1′ north latitude and 126°41′ west longitude, and

    (b) below the crest of the dam at an elevation of 1515 m.

    4. Albino Lake, British Columbia
    Albino Lake located at 56°39.4′ north latitude and 130°29.4′ west longitude near the Eskay Creek Mine in British Columbia. More precisely, the area bounded by

    (a) the contour of elevation around Albino Lake at the 1040-m level, and

    (b) the outlet of Albino Lake.

    5. Tom MacKay Lake, British Columbia
    Tom MacKay Lake located at 56°39′ north latitude and 130°34′ west longitude near the Eskay Creek Mine in British Columbia. More precisely, the area bounded by

    (a) the contour of elevation around Tom MacKay Lake at the 1078-m level, and

    (b) the outlet of Tom MacKay Lake.

    16. A portion of King Richard Creek, British Columbia A portion of King Richard Creek, located approximately 60 km southwest of the town of Mackenzie, British Columbia. More precisely, a 3.3 km portion of the creek extending northwards and upstream from the centre of a dam constructed at 55°06′42″ north latitude and 123°59′29″ west longitude, to the centre of a dam constructed at 55°07′52″ north latitude and 124°00′50″ west longitude.
    17. A portion of an unnamed tributary to Alpine Lake, British Columbia A portion of an unnamed tributary to Alpine Lake, located approximately 60 km southwest of the town of Mackenzie, British Columbia. More precisely, a 900 m portion of the tributary extending southwards and upstream from the centre of a dam constructed at 55°08′19″ north latitude and 124°00′27″ west longitude, to the centre of a dam constructed at 55°07′59″ north latitude and 124°01′00″ west longitude.
    18. A portion of an unnamed tributary to Alpine Lake, British Columbia A portion of an unnamed tributary to Alpine Lake, located approximately 60 km southwest of the town of Mackenzie, British Columbia. More precisely, a 590 m portion of the tributary extending southwards and upstream from the centre of a dam constructed at 55°08′18″ north latitude and 124°00′41″ west longitude, to the centre of a dam constructed at 55°08′09″ north latitude and 124°01′08″ west longitude.
  3. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member
    Schedule 2 is an inconspicuous name for legislation that is responsible for the destruction of freshwater bodies in Canada. Schedule 2 is a loophole in the Metal Mining Effluent Regulation (MMER) of the federal Fisheries Act that allows metal mining corporations to use lakes and rivers as toxic dump sites. Once added to Schedule 2, healthy freshwater lakes lose all environmental protections.

    Tell Minister Aglukkaq the Schedule 2 loophole must be closed!
    Schedule 2 was first introduced by the Liberal government in 2002. At the time, environmental groups were told it was merely an administrative detail aimed at accounting for the lakes and rivers that had historically been used for mining waste. The Liberal government gave assurances that Schedule 2 would not be used for healthy bodies of water.

    Then in 2006, under the Harper government, two lakes in Newfoundland and Labrador were approved for destruction using the MMER loophole and a precedent was set that would put the future of all lakes and rivers throughout the country in jeopardy. Since then, Environment Canada has released a list of 13 natural water bodies that mining corporations have applied to use as toxic dumpsites – or what the companies refer to as “tailings impoundment areas.” Numerous bodies of water have already been approved for destruction.
  4. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member
    Streamlining TIA Approvals
    Note that Environment Canada proposes to streamline the Approvals Process for Metal Mines
    with Tailings Impoundment Areas (TIA). Environment Canada plans to exempt future requests
    to add water bodies to Schedule 2 from publication in Part 1 of the Canada Gazette if the federal
    government has concluded that, based on an environmental assessment and taking into account
    mitigation measures, the project is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects.
    Conditions for exemption would also include
     public and stakeholder comments on the water body listed
     an assessment of alternatives to the proposed TIA
     considering costs and public comments
     consultations on the fish habitat compensation plan
     any other information considered relevant to facilitate the regulatory process, and
     Aboriginal consultation.
  5. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member

    Environmental impact of federal Metal Mining Effluent Regulations
    Petition: No. 219

    Issue(s): Environmental assessment, fisheries, human health/environmental health, natural resources, and water

    Petitioner(s): Mining Watch Canada

    Date Received: 7 October 2007

    Status: Completed

    Summary: The petitioner alleges that a 2002 regulatory amendment, Schedule 2, to the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations approved by Environment Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, lacked sufficient public consultation. The petitioner is concerned that this amendment allows the mining industry to deposit its toxic by-products into healthy lakes and rivers. These water bodies then become “tailing impoundment areas” that have a variety of impacts on water quality, fish, and wildlife. The petitioner asks a number of questions and requests that no other lakes be added to Schedule 2 until full public consultation on this matter has been held.

    Federal Departments Responsible for Reply: Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Natural Resources Canada

    When the proposed MMER went to Gazette I on July 28, 2001, Schedule 2 was added to the regulations. Schedule 2 had never been discussed in seven years of Environment Canada-led multi-stakeholder review of the MMLER.11 There was no public consultation on Schedule 2 prior to the MMER going to Gazette I.

    Through the addition of Schedule 2 to the MMER, ministerial authority to designate fish-bearing waters for deleterious tailings disposal (providing a site specific exemption with respect to the substance of the Regulations) was formalized to a regulatory standard for listing, and thereby redefining, natural water bodies as "Tailings Impoundment Areas" on Schedule 2 of the Regulations.14

    When Schedule 2 first appeared in the proposed MMER at Gazette I, it already contained 4 lakes and a valley with streams, all of which were already in use as tailings impoundments (presumably through ministerial authorization), some of which were associated with active mines.15

    Following Gazette I, the author of this petition and a fellow CEN delegate, who had participated in the MMLER review process since 1992, met with one of the EC officials who had headed up the MMLER review process. We questioned the EC official on the sudden appearance and the purpose of Schedule 2. We were told that this Schedule had been added in the final drafting process of the amended Regulations following legal advice that operating mines using natural water bodies for tailings impoundments would be out of compliance once the Regulations came of force unless these were covered by Schedule 2 as the Regulations were not "grandfathering" any mines.

    We queried whether it was conceivable that any new, as yet uncontaminated, water bodies could possibly be added to Schedule 2 in the future. In response, we were asked to examine the likelihood of that proposition. The EC official reminded us that the MMLER were not amended at all for 25 years between 1977-2002 and that the multi-stakeholder amendment process itself had taken nearly 10 years from start to Gazette II. We were asked to consider whether it was at all likely that a mining company would be willing to subject a project to the necessity of a lengthy regulatory review and amendment process, including all associated consultation, and the need to get approval from Governor in Council, just to secure a tailings impoundment in a natural water body. This seemed to us, at the time, a reasonable assurance that Schedule 2 was not designed to facilitate the partial destruction and elimination of healthy Canadian lakes in the future.

    Schedule 2 undermines both the intention of the Fisheries Act section 36 (3) prohibiting the dumping of "deleterious substances" into water "frequented by fish," as well as the protections afforded by the more limited definition of "deleterious" set out in the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations (MMER) Mine tailings are "deleterious" both under section 36 (3) of the Fisheries Act and as defined specifically for mine effluent by the MMER and should not be deposited into natural water bodies containing fish. Schedule 2 constitutes a regulatory "sleight-of-hand" by redefining natural water bodies as Tailings Impoundment Areas, thereby withdrawing them from the protections afforded under the Fisheries Act and the MMER and permitting their destruction by mine waste.

    Schedule 2 constitutes a shift from ministerial authority to designate fish-bearing waters for tailings disposal to a regulatory standard for designating healthy natural water bodies as Tailings Impoundment Areas.

    Schedule 2 is increasingly being viewed by mining companies and their investors as a "license to pollute Canadian lakes" as evidenced by the growing list of companies that have indicated an interest in a Schedule 2 designation for lakes at proposed mines across the country. (see Figure 1 above).

    Given the significance that Canadians in general and Aboriginal peoples in particular place on all aspects of natural water bodies and on fresh water, there should have been broad public and Aboriginal consultation on the addition of Schedule 2 to the MMER.

    Following a 7-year Environment Canada-led multi-stakeholder regulatory review period in which even the possibility of Schedule 2 was never raised, Schedule 2 was added to the MMER as the regulations went to Gazette One (July 28, 2001). There was therefore no public consultation on Schedule 2 prior to Gazette One.


    Minister's Response: Environment Canada
    18 February 2008

    Response: There was no failure to consult.

    Response: ... Not amending Schedule 2 would have substantially delayed the project, with a resulting delay of the employment and economic benefits.

    Question 29: What are the predicted costs of the perpetual care and maintenance of the tailings impoundments created out of the two destroyed lakes?

    Response: This information is not available.

    Question 60: Will DFO, EC or NRCan please provide a breakdown of the yearly costs, per project, associated with the maintenance of mine waste containment structures on all lakes or rivers currently being used as Tailings Impoundment Areas for all non-active mines (closed, orphaned or abandoned)?

    Response: Environment Canada does not have this information.

    John Baird, P.C. M.P.
    Note: Baird is now Canada's Foreign Minister, negotiating foreign trade deals behind closed doors that recognize and protect investor rights over local decision-making:
    During his tenure in the Harris Cabinet, he adopted several cost-saving measures, including reductions in discretionary government spending and an attempt to sell Hydro One, the government-owned utility firm. As the federal President of the Treasury Board in the Harper Cabinet, he adopted the Federal Accountability Act, which was put in place after the Gomery Commission which investigated the federal sponsorship scandal in the late 1990s and early 2000s. As Environment Minister, Baird signalled the Canadian government's opposition to the Kyoto Protocol whose targets have been functionally ignored since its symbolic ratification by the Chretien government.[4]

    Baird was criticized in late 1999 for refusing to cancel a five-year contract that had been signed between his department and the Bermuda-based private firm Andersen Consulting (later Accenture), worth up to $180 million. The contract, signed when Janet Ecker was Community and Social Services minister, entrusted Andersen with providing technological upgrades to the province's welfare management system. The arrangement was criticized by Auditor General Erik Peters, who observed that there was nothing in the contract to prevent Andersen from increasing its hourly rates.[25] A published report in early 2000 indicated that Andersen was charging an average of $257 per hour for work that had previously been done by ministry staff at $51 per hour. Another report indicated that the firm had charged a total of $55 million to find roughly $66 million worth of savings.[26] In response to opposition questions, Baird said that he would not terminate the contract but would endeavour to negotiate a lower rate.[27]
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 18, 2014
  6. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member

    Dr. Joseph B. Rasmussen, Professor of Biology
    and CRC chair in Aquatic Ecosystems
    University of Lethbridge, Alberta

    Re: Potential impacts of the Aur Resources/Duck Pond Mine project in the Exploits River Watershed in west-central Newfoundland, and the addition of two new fish-bearing water bodies in Schedule 2 of the Metal Mining Effluent Regulation (MMER) of the Fisheries Act


    (3) The third area of concern involves the long term future of these tailings ponds, and the environmental risks and liability issues that may arise. The important problem here is that such acid-generating mine wastes must be kept underwater in order to minimize the rate of oxidation by Thiobacillus bacteria, and thereby minimize the rate of acid leaching into surface and ground waters. In order to ensure this, the water levels in the tailings ponds must be maintained in perpetuity. There is absolutely no way to determine beforehand how long this material will need to be kept under a water cover.

    This raises the question as to who is going to underwrite the costs of maintaining the dams that regulate these water levels. The closure plan put forward by Aur Resources does include some language that recognizes the potential risks posed by these mine tailings. However, the plan assumes that after a few years, the acid-generating pyrite material in these tailings will have been ameliorated to the extent that 30 cm of borrow material and whatever natural wetland development takes place on the site will be sufficient to keep the area safe over the long term. Thus, they contend that there will be no long-term need to maintain water levels or monitor the status of the material at the site, on the surface, or the underground drainage from the site because the material will be in a safely deposited form by that time (2 to 5 years). Pyrite deposits can continue to release metal-rich acidic leachates for many years, so I would, therefore, have little faith in the assumption that the site can be made safe within five years at the outside, and that a shallow surface covering of borrow fill and organic sediments from natural wetland development will keep these leachates from entering the ground water. Indeed, I have seen many other "safe sites" with pyrite-rich tailings that continue to discharge acid drainage to surface and ground waters many years later. My concern is that if Canadian regulatory authorities approve this project based on this risky rehabilitation and closure plan, Aur Resources will have been allowed to offload these risks onto the Canadian public. In addition to these types of environmental risks, the project proposal, if allowed to go forward with the listing of the two ponds in Schedule 2 of the MMER, will be setting an important legal precedent that may greatly set back environmental protection all across Canada. Despite the concerns that EC and DFO initially expressed about this project and the absence of credible evidence that actual habitat compensation will be provided, that water quality in the area will not be compromised, or that the site will be safe in the long term, it now appears these Canadian regulatory agencies are prepared to recommend that the Metal Mining Effluent Regulation (MMER) under the Fisheries Act be amended so as to add these ponds to Schedule 2 of the MMER. By listing these ponds on Schedule 2 of the regulation, Aur Resources will, in effect, be permitted to use a pristine aquatic ecosystem as a waste dump, which would otherwise be forbidden by the Fisheries Act.


    Dr. Rasmussen conducts research through the Water Institute for Semi-arid Ecosystems (WISE) at the University of Lethbridge, in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. He is a professor of biological sciences and holds a Canada Research Council Chair in Aquatic Ecosystems. His interests include aquatic ecology, food web energetics, and conservation. He is most interested in the effects of human activities on ecosystem function, fisheries, and water quality. These include: contamination (by metals, pesticides, sewage), watershed alteration (land use, impoundments, irrigation) and exotic species introductions. His laboratory has made important contributions on the development of modeling techniques based on isotopic tracers and their application in aquatic science and management. His website is:
  7. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member

  8. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member

    Mount Polley tailings spill no risk to humans, but may harm aquatic life: B.C. government


    Mount Polley tailings spill no risk to humans, but may harm aquatic life: B.C. government

    The tailings pond dike breach near the town at the Polley Mountain mine site in B.C. is pictured Tuesday August, 5, 2014.
    WILLIAMS LAKE, B.C. — B.C. officials said sediment discharged from a tailings pond that spilled mining waste in the Cariboo region is not toxic for humans but may harm aquatic life.

    The province said the sediments exceed guidelines and contaminated sites regulation standards for copper and iron.

    The test results come as many locals and First Nations raised concerns about how fish in the area will get impacted by the Mount Polley tailings pond spill, which released 10 million cubic metres of waste water and 4.5 million cubic metres of silt into Polley Lake.

    The total volume is equivalent to 5,800 Olympic swimming pools.

    The findings are based on samples of silt taken Aug. 10 near the mouth of Hazeltine Creek and near Raft Creek. Much of the waste poured from Polley Lake into Hazeltine Creek and flowed down into Raft Creek and Quesnel Lake.

    Environment Minister Mary Polak said the area is considered contaminated under provincial regulations and Imperial Metals, the company that owns the breached pond, must show the government how it will address the situation.

    “They will have to present to us a plan for how they would address that,” said Polak. “In terms of the specifics, that will all unfold as the plans are put in place and reviewed by our staff and with First Nations.”

    Polak said Imperial Metals must assess the areas affected by the spill before determining what, if any, cleanup approach can be used.

    “They would have to take a look at the site itself and then specifically design what is possible and what is going to work well for that area,” she said.

    She said it is still unclear what can be done to clean up the mess until more assessments are done.

    “We don’t know the answer to what’s possible and what’s the best approach environmentally until there’s more work conducted,” said Polak.

    But she said there may be a chance the government will force Imperial Metals to scoop out all of the toxic sediment, though that hinges on future assessments.

    “If that’s what is most environmentally appropriate, then that’s what they would be required to do,” Polak said.

    The Ministry of Environment said it is still too early to determine what kind of harmful effects the sediment could have on aquatic life.

    Lana Miller, an official with the ministry, said copper could impact the reproduction, growth and behaviour of fish.

    “The effects that we will see on higher organisms will probably come through the copper moving through the food chain,” she said.

    Miller said more tests need to be done before authorities can understand what exactly will happen to fish and other wildlife in the area.

    The tailings dam at the Mount Polley gold and copper mine failed last week, sending millions of cubic metres of water and silt spilling into lakes and rivers in a remote area about 600 kilometres northeast of Vancouver.

    Hundreds of people were ordered not to drink or bathe in their water as the company that owns the mine, Imperial Metals (TSX:III), started cleaning up.

    Initial test results came back within drinking-water and aquatic-life guidelines, prompting the local health authority to partially lift the water ban.

    But there has been concern about the impact on fish that live in or pass through the affected lakes and rivers.

    The chiefs in two First Nations communities in the area have said their residents don’t trust the government’s claims that the fish are safe, so they’ve opted not to harvest salmon in what would normally be the busiest time of the year.

    -By Steven Chua in Vancouver with files from Paola Loriggio in Toronto.

    © Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun
  9. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member

    Mount Polley mine spill: Minister reveals plans for 2 reviews
    Mines Minister Bill Bennett laid out plans to conduct 2 reviews after tailings dam failure
    CBC News Posted: Aug 18, 2014 6:52 AM PT Last Updated: Aug 18, 2014 10:44 AM PT

    B.C.'s Minister of Energy and Mine announced an independent panel will review the Mount Polley tailings dam failure, on Monday morning. A second review will focus all tailings dams in B.C.

    Mount Polley mine: sediment near spill may harm fish
    Mount Polley tailings pond breach investigated by B.C. privacy watchdog
    B.C. Minister of Energy and Mines Bill Bennett says the government is setting up two separate reviews following the Mount Polley tailings pond failure earlier this month.

    Bennett said Monday that:

    The first review by three independent experts will investigate the failure of the tailings dam at the Mount Polley mine.
    The second review will require all mines in B.C that have tailings dams to have independent experts conduct a review of their facilities and submit them to the government.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 18, 2014
  10. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member


    Why Bill Bennett Needs to Resign
    Tradition decrees he take 'ministerial responsibility' for Mount Polley mess on his watch.
    By Rafe Mair, Today,

    By well-established precedent, Bill Bennett right about now should be typing his letter of resignation to Premier Clark.

    Extreme? Not at all. Here's a bit of history that, trust me, speaks directly to the mining minister's duty after the catastrophic breach of the tailings pond at Mount Polley mine.

    Just after the the Second World War, the British agricultural minister resigned. During the war, the Royal Air Force had expropriated a lot of farmland for airfields. After the war, this land was resold by the ministry to bidders. A lot of hanky-panky and plain unfairness came with the sales and it became a scandal.

    When the scandal broke, the minister, Thomas Dugdale, who knew little of the scheme and had nothing personally to do with it, promptly resigned. When asked why, he explained simply that since he took credit for when things went well in the ministry, he had to bear responsibility when they didn't. He perhaps was too hard on himself. Many thought so, including Winston Churchill, his prime minister. He, however, felt that his ministry had failed in its duty, which required that he take the fall.

    During the Falklands War, Lord Carrington, the defence minister, felt that his ministry had not properly advised the prime minister on the ramifications. The prime minister didn't think so but Carrington did. Again, in his view, the ministry had failed to do its duty, he was the minister, and so he must go.

    This is called "ministerial responsibility" and has become considerably less fashionable these days, to the point that I doubt that Premier Clark has any understanding of the tradition. To be fair, most people don't, but then most people are not the premier of the province.

    I will deal with the notion of "ministerial responsibility" in a moment but first let's take a look at the role that Bill Bennett assumed when he accepted the portfolio of B.C. minister of mines.

    Who holds the line?

    Some regulations in some ministries are casual. They are there to sort of guide things along.

    With environmental matters they are not casual at all. One does not expect to have an environmental disaster the day after regulation is passed, which means -- and I hate to sound pedantic but this government is not too bright -- regulations must be constantly kept up to date and enforced. This requires regular inspections by experts even though, on the face of it, it seems such a waste of time and effort because things all seem to be safe and sound.

    With a dam this is particularly true. Once built, the dam looks so nice and secure that nobody thinks for a moment there will be a problem. And there won't be a problem, likely, until all of a sudden there is one. Obviously, this means there must be constant inspection reports and updating of the dam itself even though it all looks so permanently intact.

    There is, in law, a Latin maxim which says "res ipsa loquitur" -- which means that the " thing speaks for itself." Translated into this context, "dams do not normally burst in the absence of very great negligence."

    Unless there has been an obvious act of God, this maxim surely applies to the Mount Polley debacle. The onus to prove they have no responsibility for the catastrophe falls squarely upon those responsible for maintaining the dam, Imperial Metals, as well upon as those making and enforcing dam safety regulations, the ministries.

    The story of the Mount Polley is a sad series of cautionary tales.

    Not long after the BC Liberal government came to power in 2001 they went on a binge of making things more comfortable for the corporations that put them there. This meant serious cutbacks which in turn meant lack of inspections and lack of pressure on companies to upgrade their facilities. Government safety regulations were "red tape" and the buzz word was "deregulation." The pressures from the government's paymasters, the large corporations, to "cut the crap" were enormous and constant.

    Those who have been reading the pages of The Tyee -- and may I also mention those of the Common Sense Canadian which I helped found -- will know that inspections of mines dipped to appallingly low levels in the decade after the BC Liberals took over. Far from being hindsight, the whole sordid mess is well documented. It's not just the number of inspections that apparently increased risk of disaster, it's what did or didn't happen when problems were discovered on site.

    It would seem that at least five recent inspection results resulted in five warnings to Imperial Metals, all of which were ignored.
  11. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member

    Opinion, continued....

    Babbling Bennett

    This has all been played down by mines minister Bennett as he's been babbling forth since the disaster. Indeed he tells us that mine inspections have been restored to 2009 levels which is disingenuous in the extreme since the current levels are only half what they were when Bennett's party took power in 2001, and they had dipped so much lower than even that at points in the decade that surely a large backlog of needed inspections now exists. Besides, in 2009 inspectors became more educators and public relations officers than actual on-site inspectors of the dam.

    In short, when I read the evidence I was of the opinion that not only was the dam quite possibly not properly inspected, but even when it was inspected, the company didn't follow up on the inspectors' recommendations. News accounts carry quotes from engineers and people who worked at the dam telling appalling stories of neglect both on the part of the mining ministry and Imperial Metals. It's a disgrace.

    Let's get back to Thomas Dugdale. The basic principle of how our government runs is "ministerial responsibility." These words mean exactly what they say. The minister is responsible for what happens in his or her ministry.

    This doesn't mean, of course, that if an employee gets drunk and disorderly the minister is responsible. Nor does it mean that the minister is responsible for the day-to-day errors made in the normal course of events within that ministry.

    In the sense that I'm talking about ministerial responsibility here, I am not talking about the minister's personal behaviour or policy. These too can lead to the need for the minister to resign but are in a separate category from this discussion.

    Ministerial responsibility is not a question of a criminal or even civil responsibility. The minister is not being personally punished. No question arises as to presumption of innocence, a full investigation, a fair trial and all those sorts of things. They have no application. It is strictly a matter of "duty," a word evidently not much understood in the Clark government.

    (This is where people get confused and no wonder since when incidents of this sort occur, politicians fall all over themselves to confuse the public with such terms as presumption of innocence, fair play and all that sort of thing. Those are red herrings.)

    Resignations can strengthen government

    Without the strict accountability of the minister for his ministry, the glue that holds the government together breaks apart. For if he is not responsible, who is? Does it mean simply that the ministry should sail along as if nothing had happened and no overt action need be taken? How does a public have confidence in such an absence of discipline?

    Strangely, business understands this rule better than government. When a large company takes a huge hit, even if the president couldn't see it coming or had anything personal to do with it, he or she offers their resignation and is replaced by somebody else. He or she was in charge when it happened, he or she therefore must take the responsibility.

    The premier clearly doesn't understand these things. Her first reaction was to go into hiding. When she did emerge, her natural inclination was to get into an airplane, cameras galore, fly over the lake, pronounce it to be a terrible disaster and promise to do everything she can to get it back to the way it used to be, nice and pretty.

    Clark's principal obligation, to her anyway, as we've apparently learned these past 10 days or so, is to satisfy those who give her party great gobs of money. As it turns out, one of the principal donors is Imperial Metals. One cannot let things like parliamentary traditions and silly notions like ministerial responsibility to get in the way of obligations to clients, now can one?

    It is fair to ask: why do you suppose Imperial Metals gave Clark's party all that money in the first place if it wasn't to get her government to be nice to them? Are we really to believe that premier Clark's decisions are not guided by matters of donations? Especially enormous ones? If she and her ministers are not, what's the point?

    Solemn parliamentary obligations like "ministerial responsibility" take their lead from the premier and we haven't had a premier since Bill Bennett (the "real" Bill Bennett) who understood the principles I've been talking about. I can tell you from personal experience that when I served in his cabinet all of my colleagues knew that if we didn't do our jobs properly as a minister we would be replaced. We also knew that if our ministries failed to do their statutory duty we would be replaced. We also knew the difference.

    Leadership and lack thereof

    If we were just talking about competence, I would've devoted this column to reasons why Christy Clark should resign as quickly as possible along with the rest of her government. That, however, is for another day and for an election.

    The urgent issue today for the BC Liberal government is to restore its integrity in the wake of a terrible mess occurring on its watch. That requires ministerial responsibility, which requires leadership. That leadership requires that Minister Bill Bennett resign promptly. Probably Mary Polak too.

    Don't hold your breath...
  12. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member

    Minister Polak's False Statement on Mine Inspections
    And more of the Tyee's coverage (so far) attempting to separate fact from spin on the Mount Polley disaster.
    By Maura Forrest, 14 Aug 2014,

    Mount Polley tailings dam spill
    Breach in tailings pond dam for Mount Polley mine. Source: Cariboo Regional District.

    In an August 8 interview with the host of CBC Radio's On the Coast, Environment Minister Mary Polak denied that mine inspections have declined since her government was elected.

    When asked how many staff the ministry dedicated to monitoring mines before the BC Liberals gained power in 2001, Polak responded that "the number of inspections of mines has not changed."

    But that statement is simply untrue.

    As The Tyee reported early on the same day, there were nearly double the number of mine inspections in 2001 as there were in 2012.

    It's only been 10 days since a tailings pond at the Mount Polley copper and gold mine breached its dam, spilling 10 million cubic metres of water and 4.5 million cubic metres of sediment into lakes and waterways near the town of Likely, B.C.

    But the story has proved to be more complex than one isolated spill, as the controversy over mine inspections shows.

    It's been suggested that Imperial Metals knew the pond was getting too large. Even the company's donations to the BC Liberal Party have been brought into question.
  13. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member

    Young Quesnel Lake sockeye may be in trouble after Mount Polley tailings pond collapse

    Adult fish should be fine, say experts, but younger ones will need watching



    Young Quesnel Lake sockeye may be in trouble after Mount Polley tailings pond collapse

    The Mount Polley tailings pond dam failure on August 4 could affect juvenile sockeye salmon currently rearing in Quesnel Lake, according to the Pacific Salmon Commission.
    Adult sockeye returning to Quesnel Lake to spawn should be fine, but officials are less optimistic about juvenile salmon as a result of the Mount Polley tailings pond dam failure on August 4.

    “Juvenile sockeye produced by adult fish that spawned in 2013 are currently rearing in Quesnel Lake, and the spill could impact their survival and food supply,” the Pacific Salmon Commission said in a news release. It added that the impacts on juveniles “are more complex and will require longer term evaluation.”

    On the plus side, adult sockeye returning to spawn in the Quesnel system should not be seriously affected.

    Quesnel sockeye are forecast to make up about 25 per cent of the total adult sockeye returns to the Fraser River this summer and seven per cent of all Fraser sockeye stocks combined, the commission said. The pre-season forecast for the return of the sockeye salmon in the Quesnel system is 845,000 to 2.95 million.

    The peak migration of sockeye into Quesnel Lake is not expected until the first week of September.

    This lag time combined with “encouraging results of initial water quality tests” released by the Ministry of Environment “suggest that substantial impacts on adult sockeye returning this year are unlikely,” the commission said.

    © Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun
  14. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member

    Retired fish biologist for Quesnel Lake calls for independent public inquiry into mine disaster


    Retired fish biologist for Quesnel Lake calls for independent public inquiry into mine disaster

    An aerial view shows the damage caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C. Tuesday, August, 5, 2014. The pond which stores toxic waste from the Mount Polley Mine had its dam break on Monday spilling its contents into the Hazeltine Creek causing a wide water-use ban in the area. Damage from a tailings pond breach is seen near Likely, B.C., Tuesday, August 5, 2014. A tailings pond that breached Monday, releasing a slurry of contaminated water and mine waste into several central British Columbia waterways, had been growing at an unsustainable rate, an environmental consultant says.
    Photograph by: Jonathan Hayward , THE CANADIAN PRESS
    The former provincial fisheries biologist responsible for Quesnel Lake called Thursday for an independent public inquiry into the Mount Polley tailings pond breach to ensure that no party escapes blame and to help prevent a similar occurrence.

    “An independent inquiry outside of government would be in order,” Jack Leggett said Thursday in an interview from Williams Lake. “If government was negligent, they’re not so likely to reveal that, right? I’m not saying they are. But if it was an independent body, it would be easier for them to make a public report and say errors were created, be it government or the mine or whatever.”

    Leggett retired in 2003 after about 30 years with the Ministry of Environment as a fisheries biologist and manager for the Cariboo region, with responsibility for the recreational fishery in Quesnel Lake.

    “It’s a catastrophe, no doubt about that,” he said. “I was sick when I heard about it. It’s a pristine place and one of the deepest inland fiord lakes in the world. To have something like this happen, of this magnitude, it’s tough to comprehend.”

    Quesnel Lake has a unique late-maturing population of rainbow trout, fish that are prized by anglers from around the world for their size, he said. Bull trout are also in the lake, he added, and a significant spawning sockeye run which must swim past the inflow from Hazeltine Creek — heavily scoured and polluted with heavy metals and contaminants from the tailings pond since the spill. Young smolts are swimming the other way.

    Hazeltine Creek was expanded from about 1.2 metres wide to 45 metres wide as a result of the tailings pond failure, according to the Ministry of Environment.

    The pre-season forecast for the sockeye return to the Quesnel system — including Horsefly River, Quesnel River and Mitchell River *— is 845,000 to 2.95 million.

    “I don’t know why it happened or how it could happen, but it did,” Leggett said. “It’s a wake-up call for British Columbia to make sure these settling ponds and so forth are more strictly monitored and it doesn’t happen again.”

    Leggett said the effects of the heavy metals and contaminants such as arsenic from the tailings pond failure early Monday will be long-lasting, noting that sediments that were carried into Hazeltine Creek will continue to wash down into Quesnel Lake. “It’s going to take a long, long time for it to get out of the system,” he said. “Heavy rains will bring the sediments and contamination into the system for years and years.”

    As of Thursday, the environment ministry said “the flow out of the breach has decreased dramatically, but has not completely stopped.”

    Leggett finds it difficult to believe the mess will be cleaned up, saying: “I think the costs would be so prohibitive, I don’t think it would be possible to do that.”

    Coho salmon and rainbow trout were known to spawn in Hazeltine Creek, he said, while Polley Lake had rainbow trout.

    Fisheries and Oceans Canada, which is leaving investigation of the disaster to the province, has, as a “precautionary measure,” banned recreational fishing on the Cariboo River from the confluence of the Quesnel River to the confluence of Seller Creek, and Quesnel River downstream of Poquette Creek. The ban does not affect aboriginal food, social and ceremonial fishing.

    Environment Canada spokesman Mark Johnson said the department is “currently assessing the situation with respect to federal environmental and wildlife laws within its jurisdiction, and has opened an investigation.”

    On Wednesday, Mines Minister Bill Bennett told a news conference in Williams Lake that there are about 20 active mines in B.C. with tailings ponds. The Vancouver Sun has repeatedly asked the ministry for a full list of active and closed mines with such tailings ponds along with copies of the latest provincial inspection reports on them, but is still awaiting the information.

    In 2010, rising waters broke through a private dam at Testalinden Lake near Oliver, destroying five homes. The Sun reported at the time there were 1,985 dams in B.C. and 97 per cent of them are privately owned. Of all the dams, 289 were deemed by the province to be at high or very high risk of causing severe consequences to people, property and/or the environment should they fail. The Testalinden dam was considered at low risk.

    The Ministry of Environment has issued a pollution abatement order to Imperial Metals, owner of Mount Polley mine. The company has filed a preliminary environmental assessment report and is ordered to file a more comprehensive report by Aug. 15.

    Failure to comply with the pollution abatement order could result in fines of up to $300,000 and six months in jail.

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  15. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member

    Northern BC Mine Suspended as Experts Probe Polley Spill
    Development of Morrison project near Smithers now on hold.
    By Maura Forrest, Today,

    Proposed Morrison open-pit copper-gold mine
    The proposed Morrison open-pit copper-gold mine would be located 65 kilometres northeast of Smithers. Map courtesy of the Government of Canada.

    Development of a proposed copper-gold mine in northern B.C. has been put on hold while an investigation probes the causes of the Aug. 4 Mount Polley mine disaster, which saw 14.5 million cubic metres of water and sediment pour out of a tailings pond into waterways near Likely, British Columbia.

    The Morrison open-pit mine is proposed for a site 65 kilometres northeast of Smithers, B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak suspended the project's environmental assessment on Monday, shortly after a provincial review of the Mount Polley spill was announced by Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett.

    The suspension order stated that "the ministers desire that any decision on the proposed project be informed by the results of the independent expert engineering investigation and review panel."

    It's not the first setback for the Morrison mine, which appears to have been singled out due to concerns about its proposed tailings pond.

    Tailings seepage a concern

    Proponent Pacific Booker Metals first submitted an environmental assessment for the Morrison mine to the Environmental Assessment Office in 2003. After making multiple requests for more information and conducting external reviews of water quality and fisheries impacts, the EAO completed an assessment report in August 2012, concluding that the project would result in no significant adverse effects.

    But in a surprise move, EAO executive director Derek Sturko recommended that an environmental assessment certificate not be issued for the project, citing several concerns that included an "anticipated long-term decline in water quality" in nearby Morrison Lake.

    The potential impacts listed in the EAO's assessment report included the possible seepage of tailings water from the tailings pond into surface and groundwater, as well as pollution from the planned discharge of treated effluent into Morrison Lake.

    In his recommendations, Sturko registered concern about impacts to the lake's "genetically unique" population of sockeye salmon.

    Company sued province for 'unfairness'

    The government rejected the mine proposal in Sept. 2012. But Pacific Booker Metals sued the province for "procedural unfairness," since the EAO had concluded that the project would be safe.

    The company won its case in Dec. 2013, and was given an opportunity to respond to the executive director's concerns.

    But now that process is suspended again.

    An email statement from the Ministry of Environment explained that "the potential effects related to the design and location of the tailings management facility of the Morrison project were very much part of what the Environmental Assessment Office's executive director identified in the 2012 recommendations. For that reason, it is prudent to suspend the Morrison environmental assessment."

    There are 30 proposed mines currently in the environmental assessment process in British Columbia
  16. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member

    'They Killed My Beautiful Lake'
    Skeed Borkowski built his lodge, and life, on Quesnel Lake. Then the Mount Polley dam burst.
    By Tom Hawthorn, Today,

    A telephone ringing in the predawn darkness does not bring good news.

    It was 5 a.m. on the morning of B.C. Day, a statutory holiday for much of the province but a regular summer workday at the Northern Lights Lodge on Quesnel Lake. The eight rooms in the lodge were occupied, as were five cabins.

    The owners were enjoying what they expected to be their final summer operating the fly-fishing lodge before retirement. The property had been recently listed for sale. A lifetime of labour was nearing an end. "We were cramming for finals," said Skeed Borkowski, 66, who owns the lodge with his wife, Sharon.

    It is the kind of rustic retreat where guests become friends and a first stay is followed by an annual visit. The final scheduled guest was making his fifteenth visit. Americans come to the lodge for the bounty of burbling trout streams. Europeans seek the peaceful solitude to be found on the shore of a crystalline lake, a lake so clear and with water so refreshing Borkowski liked to quench his thirst by dipping a tin cup into the lake on which they floated. The lodge was solidly booked for what the Borkowskis expected would be their final season.

    Then the phone rang and bad news came and all plans went into limbo.

    On the other end of the line was Sam McBurney, Sharon's brother. "Mount Polley's tailings pond has breached," he said. "The dam has broken. It's in Quesnel Lake."

    Borkowski thought, How is that possible? He also knew that what is a pond by name is much, much larger than a mere pond. He takes guests berry picking on Spanish Mountain to the east and has scanned the Mount Polley operation through binoculars. Imperial Metals' open-pit copper and gold mine had a tailings pond in a crater about half the expanse of Stanley Park. It holds as much water as 2,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Only this pond held more than just water -- the mine lists 31 solids impounded in the tailings, from aluminum to zinc.

    Roar of a dam collapsing

    The couple stepped onto their deck, which faces the lake along which they own a 2,000-foot frontage. It was still dark, though dawn was nearing, and the usual morning still was shattered by an odd, thundering roar. Like thunder. Or a jet. Only wetter.

    "It was like standing next to a large waterfall," he said. "It was so loud."

    They decided they needed to warn campers down the lake at Winkley Creek. In the country, there is no shirking responsibility, no one else to pick up the slack. So, the couple boarded their 22-foot Silverline cabin cruiser and set off south.

    In the distance on their right, they spotted the site where waste and debris were slushing into Quesnel Lake. The mouth of Hazeltine Creek, a stream narrow enough to be jumped over, had been obliterated by the torrent from the mine's retention basin.

    "It was mud. Logs. A slurry coming down," he said. "You could see grey waves."

    High above, the breach of the earthen pond dam allowed 10 million cubic metres of water and 4.5 million cubic metres of fine sand to drain into Polley Lake. When it in turn overflowed, the mixture followed the dictates of gravity along the creek bed, washing away trees and scraping the mountainside into Quesnel Lake. A creek less than two metres wide had been replaced by a churning, muddy wall of water as wide as 150 metres.

    On the lake, the debris piled up. "Logs stacked up in log islands," Borkowski said. Some of these were seven-metres tall and 50-metres wide.

    The roiling waters bubbling around log islands presented a surreal image, one Borkowski struggled to describe.

    "It was something they couldn't even duplicate in the movies," he said.

    The couple continued on to the Winkley Creek campsites, where they told campers what they knew and what they had seen. The campers were asked to spread the word.

    Once back home, the telephone rang constantly, as neighbours shared what information they had. The Borkowskis also had to deal with a workday in which 20 guests had to be fed.

    Life at the end of the road

    The Northern Lights Lodge can be found along Cedar Creek Road driving south from Likely, an old Cariboo mining town originally known as Quesnelle Dam and later named after "Plato John" Likely, a gold prospector who liked to lecture fellow miners about philosophy. You find the turnoff for the lodge about a kilometre south of Cedar Creek Provincial Park, the entrance indicated by a wooden sign decorated with the lodge's name and a set of bear paw prints. A long driveway ends at the lakefront, where stands a log cabin made of cedar, which was originally built for a wealthy Vancouver family in 1942.

    The Borkowskis, who were high-school sweethearts, purchased the lodge with partners in 1995, turning the lodge into a fly-fishing operation to take advantage of bountiful rainbow and bull trout streams feeding into the wishbone-shaped lake. Quesnel Lake is B.C.'s deepest at 530 metres, deeper than the greatest of the Great Lakes and the second deepest in Canada. The glacier lake has long been known for its pristine water.

    Skeed Borkowski
    Before the deluge: Borkowski holding a fresh caught bull trout. 'The stigma will hang over this lake forever.' Source: Skeed Borkowski.

    Skeed Borkowski was born on the family farm at Mink Creek, a hamlet in the rural Manitoba municipality of Ethelbert. His grandmother delivered him. When he was aged six, the family joined his father's brothers in Williams Lake. The boy, who was named Terrance John Joseph Anthony on his birth, gained the nickname Skeed for his exploits in a high school basketball game. (The name came from a code word used in the game.) He and Sharon operated their own logging operation (Summit Cedar Products Ltd.) for nearly 20 years. They also have done some placer mining for gold.

    "People are here by choice," he said of Likely. "It's an end-of-the-road town. I thought if the world was coming to an end this was the place to be."

    He did not expect the end of the world, nor even the end of a way of life. When he sent the photo at the top of this article, he provided this caption: "Sharon & I, married for 45 years & the SOBs just stole our pension but worst of all... they killed my beautiful lake!"
 'It'll never be fine'

    Borkowski considers himself pro-development and has had plenty of miners stay at the resort. (Three were on hand even on the night the dam failed.) Family members have worked at the Mount Polley mine.

    He did not find any comfort in the words of Premier Christy Clark, who vowed to return the scarred landscape "to the real pristine beauty we all know this lake is for our province."

    "You can wave your pom-poms all you want," he said. "The cheerleading stuff will not work."

    He cannot imagine how his resort and the other tourist- and fishing-related businesses around the lake will survive. A simple Google search by a potential customer seeking a fly-fishing outfitter will connect Quesnel Lake with a mine breach.

    "The stigma will hang over this lake forever," he said. "It'll never be fine. It'll never be safe. Maybe a generation from now." He let the thought linger for a moment. "I don't have a generation from now."

    The provincial government took a water sample from the lake just off his property. He was told the water at his intake was safe for consumption, but he cannot bring himself to do so. "My brain won't let me drink it," he said. Instead, he has spent a few thousand dollars to hook up a spring on his property to his residence.

    In a fortnight, he and his wife have gone from preparing for a deserved retirement into a limbo from which the future is only uncertain.

    "These two weeks," he said, "have been a helluva 10 years."
  17. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member

    B.C. announces independent inquiry into Mount Polley tailings pond spill


    Province launches independent inquiry into the breach of the tailings pond at Mt. Polley Mine in Likely, B.C.
    The B.C. government has loaded an “independent” panel that will investigate Imperial Metals’s Mount Polley tailings dam collapse with engineering experts.

    But the three-person panel does not include specialists with expertise in government regulatory oversight, one of the key issues being scrutinized.

    B.C. Mines Minister Bill Bennett defended the panel selection, saying the engineers have experience in conducting forensic investigations of dam failures and are capable of assessing government regulatory oversight.

    “I think (the three panel members) engage with government regulations everywhere they work,” Bennett said in an interview.

    “These are the best people to figure out why the dam breached, and they are also the best people to figure out: could government have done anything different to help the company or the engineering company realize there was a potential breach? It all comes down to the design, construction and the maintenance of the dam.”

    Earlier, in a news conference to announce details of the panel, Bennett said everything was on the table including government regulations, government policies, and “how we do business.”

    Asked if he would quit if the province was found responsible for the dam failure, Bennett said he would take responsibility but didn’t think the government would be found at fault.

    He said there was no leading theory for the dam collapse.

    The three panel members have a vast array of mine engineering experience.

    Engineering consultant Steven Vick was chairman of the investigation of the Omai tailings dam failure for the government of Guyana. He also participated in the investigation of the New Orleans levee failures that occurred during Hurricane Katrina.

    University of Alberta engineering professor emeritus Norbert Morgenstern has worked on more than 140 dam projects, and University of B.C. engineering professor Dirk van Zyl has more than 30 years experience in research, teaching, and consulting in tailings and earth dams.

    Bennett has given the panel a broad investigation mandate: geotechnical standards for the dam and four-square-kilometre tailings pond, dam design, ongoing maintenance, changes that were made to the dam, government regulations, government inspection regimes and other matters the panel views appropriate.

    The panel has also been granted statutory authority under the B.C. Mines Act to compel the company and others to provide evidence.

    The review will be paid for by Imperial Metals, which did not respond to a request for comment on Monday.

    The panel has been endorsed by the Mining Association of B.C., the Association for Mineral Exploration B.C. and the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of B.C. The engineering association and the Institute of Mining Engineering at the University of B.C. provided advice on the panel members.

    But Calvin Sandborn, legal director of the University of Victoria environmental law centre, said the engineering experts are not well-positioned to investigate the government’s regulatory system, the credibility of witnesses, allegations that Imperial Metals had placed production ahead of safety or the industry’s influence on mine policy and regulations. Mining companies are heavy political contributors to the ruling B.C. Liberals.

    Sandborn argued the province’s regulatory system has been gutted in the past decade.

    A better selection would have been a former judge, who then could have gathered evidence from different experts, including engineering and regulatory experts, he said.

    “We’ve got two problems here. We have a broken dam, but the more important problem that is not going to be addressed by this is our broken regulatory system,” Sandborn said. “Engineering experts don’t have the expertise to look at the broader picture of why our regulatory system failed here.”

    Ramsey Hart, MiningWatch’s Canada program coordinator, said someone more removed from the mining industry who was able to bring a public interest perspective would have been an important addition to the panel.

    The role that government regulation, inspection and oversight played in the dam collapse are “crucial” issues to be examined, he said.

    The Soda Creek and Williams Lake Indian bands say they support the panel, and will be kept appraised of the investigation by a liaison they will choose themselves.

    “We don’t have the technical experience that’s required to do the assessments out there, so we do have to place our confidence somewhere,” said Chief Ann Louie of the Williams Lake Indian Band.

    “The government is being held accountable for this, so I’m sure that the people that have been selected are the best in the world, as they have indicated. If not, and there are issues with (the investigation), the time will come when that has to be dealt with,” she said.

    The panel will deliver its report and recommendations by Jan. 31, 2015 to the government and the two First Nations, after which it will be made public.

    NDP mines critic Norm Macdonald called the panel investigation a “good first step,” but said Bennett was jumping to conclusions when he said he didn’t think his ministry will be found at fault.

    The B.C. chief inspector of mines has also ordered “extraordinary independent inspections” of approximately 60 mine waste sites, the government announced. Those company-funded inspections must be completed by Dec. 1.

    Pacific Booker Minerals Inc.’s Morrison mine proposal was dealt another delay by the announcement of independent inspections.

    Environment Minister Mary Polak suspended B.C.’s reconsideration of the $2.5-billion Morrison copper-gold project pending the outcome of an independent investigation and review of the tailings-dam break at the Mount Polley mine, which spewed 14.5 million cubic metres of water and mucky tailings down a pristine watercourse near the mine Aug 4.

    With a file from Derrick Penner

    Read more:
  18. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member

    Mount Polley spill spurs CNSC order to check uranium ponds
    7 companies must report back on radioactive waste in Saskatchewan, Ontario
    CBC News Posted: Aug 19, 2014 11:28 AM ET Last Updated: Aug 19, 2014 12:47 PM ET

    The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission regulates uranium mines and mills, including their waste. In a news release Monday, it said it sent a letter last week to seven companies that operate uranium tailings ponds in Ontario and Saskatchewan.

    Read the letter
    Uranium mine Key Lake Cameco
    Cameco's Key Lake mine in northern Saskatchewan is seen in a 2007 photo. (Dave Stobbe/Reuters)

    The ponds contained ground-up uranium ore stored underwater to minimize the escape of dust and radiation and to prevent it from oxidizing. According to the CNSC, they could contain significant concentrations of radioactive elements such as thorium-230 and radium-226, along with elements produced by their radioactive decay.

    Tailings ponds for mining and oilsands waste: FAQs
    "The recent tailings dam breach that occurred at the Mt. Polley mine in British Columbia on Aug. 4, 2014 has raised awareness of issues associated with tailings impoundments," said the letter, dated Aug. 14.

    "This is a reminder that vigilance must be maintained by ensuring that tailings dams continue to be properly designed, constructed, operated, maintained and monitored to prevent such occurrences."

    Tailings pond spill: What happens to effluent over time
    The letter asked the seven companies to review the causes of the breach of a dam at a tailings pond at the Mount Polley gold and copper mine in B.C. The incident spilled 10 million cubic metres of wastewater and more than four million cubic metres of sediment into nearby Hazeltine Creek. Following the breach, hundreds of people living downstream were temporarily ordered not to drink or bathe in the local water. Tests later showed that sediment at the mouth of Hazeltine Creek exceeded guidelines in contaminated site regulation standards for copper and iron.

    Mount Polley mine spill: Minister reveals plans for 2 reviews
    Companies are also asked to:

    Confirm the safety of their own tailings dam.
    Confirm and demonstrate that they have conducted all operations, inspections and monitoring required by their operating license.
    Confirm that measures are in place to mitigate a potential breach.
    Report any "identified gaps" and "associated plans to address them."
    Companies have until Sept. 15 to tell the agency when and how they will carry out the request.

    The seven companies involved include:

    Cameco Corporation
    Rio Algom Limited
    Willet Green Miller Ctr
    P.J. Brugger and Associates
    EWL Management Ltd.
    Denison Mines Inc.
    AREVA and Cameco operate three tailings ponds in Saskatchewan where tailings are still being deposited – McClean Lake, Key Lake and Rabbit Lake – along with some tailings ponds at closed or decommissioned uranium mines in the province.

    The other companies operate tailings ponds at closed or decommissioned uranium mines in Ontario.

    Several other uranium tailings ponds are operated by the federal government in the Northwest Territories and provincial governments in Ontario and Saskatchewan.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 25, 2014
  19. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member

    Tailings pond spill: What happens to effluent over time
    Toxic slurry from mining operations often buried, revegetated after mines close, experts say after B.C. breach
    By Matt Kwong, CBC News Posted: Aug 08, 2014 2:00 AM PT Last Updated: Aug 11, 2014 5:38 AM PT

    Emergency declared in B.C. mine spill 2:39

    Tailings — the slurry of water, finely ground rock, ore and chemical byproducts washed away during the mining process — never quite go away. The same goes for the risk of failure for even the best-engineered "tailings impoundment" dams, environmental experts say.

    A sobering reminder came in the form of an environmental catastrophe this week in B.C. when the tailings pond overseen by Imperial Metals breached, spilling five million cubic metres of effluent into the Quesnel-Cariboo river system.

    VIDEO TOUR | Quesnel Lake resident shows CBC aftermath of breach
    MORE | Mount Polley mine spill threatens B.C. sockeye salmon run
    REPORT | Mount Polley mine tailings pond breach followed years of government warnings
    RAW VIDEO | View from a helicopter over the tailings breach zone
    PHOTOS | 'The devastation up the lake is unbelievable'
    Asked by CBC's Chris Hall how long it might take to eventually restore affected areas to their natural state, Ramsey Hart of MiningWatch Canada gave a grim assessment.

    "I don't think it will ever entirely be cleaned up," said Hart, who researches mining issues, including waste management, the impacts of mining on aquatic ecosystems, and mining and indigenous rights.

    Manmade tailings ponds, or reservoirs that use natural geologic features such as valleys or lakes to contain the mine waste, store the tailings solids in water to prevent their exposure to oxygen.

    In the mining industry, this is called "capping" and is meant to reduce the risk of a toxic outflow known as acid mine drainage, says Bill Donahue, director of policy and science with the Alberta-based environmental non-profit Water Matters.

    Keep tailings away from oxygen

    As long as the mine waste is capped or submerged in a tailings pond, he said, "all the sediments full of waste rock and heavy metals don't get a lot of oxygen," which in turn reduces acid production.

    "Tailings ponds are not considered a stopgap; they're considered a solution, I would say. And not really reasonably so," Donahue said from Edmonton.

    Tailings Pond Breach 20140805
    An aerial view shows the damage caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., on Tuesday. The pond, which stores mining waste from the Mount Polley mine, had its dam break on Monday, spilling its contents into Hazeltine Creek, Polley Lake and Quesnel Lake, and leading to a wide water-use ban in the area. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

    "Even just using a tailings pond presumes the dam is not going to fail. As a risk management solution, it's certainly a risky one."

    This also presumes the tailings pond doesn't actually leak out into the groundwater, he said.

    An Environment Canada in February found that mining waste water from oilsands tailing ponds was leaking into the Athabasca River. The study estimated that one dam was leaking 6.5 million litres of polluted water a day into groundwater.

    The Mining Association of BC, which represents the province's coal, mineral and precious metal mining interests, estimates more than 1,000 tailings ponds are operating across Canada.

    Stacking 'dry cake' tailings

    Angela Waterman, the association's vice-president of environment and technical affairs, said that for the past 40 years in B.C., mining operators are required to carry out a reclamation program as part of their operating permits once mining activities cease.

    The idea is to have former tailings sites "blend back into the background," she said. Reclaimed tailings impoundments have also been turned into grazing areas or became solar farms.

    Tailings management consultants are increasingly looking to viable alternatives beyond conventional impoundment, which uses vast amounts of water.

    '[The tailings] wouldn't be extracted; it would be buried. The cover would be on top of it.'
    - Angela Waterman, Mining Association of BC, vice-president of environment and technical affairs
    Some mines in Chile and at least one in the Yukon have taken to producing dry-filtered tailings, said Dirk Van Zyl, chair of mining and the environment at the University of British Columbia.

    "You either take a screen and press the tailings against them to push the water out, or you put a vacuum to it and suck the water out," she said.

    These dewatered tailings, sometimes called "dry cake," could be stacked like soil and might help solve the problem of controlling seepage into aquifers.

    Mount Polley Mine tailings pond dam failure
    The earthen wall of the Mount Polley mine gave way early Monday morning, sending five million cubic metres of copper and gold mining waste water into waterways near Likely, B.C. (CBC)

    At the moment, conventional tailings ponds appear to be the status quo in B.C.

    "[The tailings] wouldn't be extracted; it would be buried. The cover would be on top of it," Waterman said.

    A layer of soil mixed with synthetic materials would construct a "geo-membrane" that would be used as a liner, and could then be greened over, likely with whatever vegetation is indigenous to the area.

    Mount Polley mine tailings spill: Imperial Metals could face $1M fine

    "You can stand on it, you can run on it, and you might never know it existed after it's dewatered, of course," Waterman said, adding that she believes B.C. still has among the most stringent guidelines on discharged water quality in Canada.

    Use in construction material

    Under increased scrutiny about the mining industry's role in environmental stewardship, some companies are examining the potential for recycling tailings or using them in construction.

    In an email, Alan Fair, a tailings management expert with Canada's Oil Sands Innoviation Alliance, said the association is focusing on "new and improved" technologies that can turn wet tailings into materials that could be "successfully integrated into the final reclaimed mine-site."

    Imperial Metals president Brian Kynoch
    Imperial Metals president Brian Kynoch addressed Likely, B.C., residents in an emotionally charged meeting at the community hall Tuesday afternoon after the massive tailings pond breach at its Mount Polley copper and gold mine. (Kirk Williams/CBC)

    The Phoenix-based copper mining firm Freeport-McMoRan Inc. developed a patent for packing residual tailings into building bricks.

    Van Zyl has one of the brick prototypes sitting on his office desk at UBC.

    "It's a very good product, but it's quite expensive to do," he says. He adds that another drawback is that many tailings ponds happen to be in remote areas where transportation costs of tailings-made building materials would not be economically feasible.

    Cross-jurisdictional regulation

    Regulation of tailings management is cross-jurisdictional, between provincial, federal and territorial governments.

    Donahue said B.C. takes primary jurisdiction over mining regulations related to management, monitoring and assessment for tailings ponds under its Mines Act.

    Imperial Metals briefs community in Likely, B.C.
    The community hall in Likely, B.C., was overflowing with residents expressing concern about Monday's massive tailings pond breach at the Mount Polley copper and gold mine. (Kirk Williams/CBC)

    The federal government steps in when matters concern the environment or fish habitats, for example. In this case, federal Metal Mining Effluent Regulations would likely apply under the Fisheries Act, Donahue said, noting that the environmental disaster caused by the Mount Polley mine spill comes at a particularly crucial time.

    "It's supposed to be a record spawning year, and unfortunately the spawning season is starting now," he said of the Quesnel waterways, major sockeye salmon tributaries and spawning grounds.

    Waterman said the mining industry is committed to maintaining the trust of the public and protecting the environment, and she believes Canada's dam safety regulations are already among the most stringent in the world.

    B.C. Ministry of Environment
    Imperial Metals: Mount Polley Mine
    Cariboo Regional District Emergency Operations Centre
    "But are things ever worth a review? Of course," she said.

    A spokesperson with the B.C. Ministry Environment said the ministry issued five warnings to Imperial Metals — the latest was in May — related to the water level in the tailings ponds exceeding permitted limits relating to volume.

    Yet the breach happened anyway.

    "The mentality of a lot of these regulatory agencies is we're not interested in punishing anyone; we just want to make sure they comply, so what happens is companies when they don't comply, they don't really suffer any consequences," Donahue said.

    "They need to be more punitive and heavy-headed, and the industry needs to start understanding this cannot happen. Tailings ponds cannot fail."
  20. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member

    Liberals keeping ‘dangerous occurrences’ at B.C. tailings ponds a secret

    Victoria has removed ability of public to keep track of incidents on public lands, NDP accuses


    Liberals keeping ‘dangerous occurrences’ at B.C. tailings ponds a secret

    A aerial view shows the damage caused by the Mount Polley mine tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C. Tuesday, August, 5, 2014.
    There were 46 “dangerous or unusual occurrences” at tailings ponds at mines across B.C. between 2000 and 2012, according to annual reports of B.C’s chief inspector of mines.

    The inspection reports provide a yearly breakdown of the numbers, but no details of what occurred at the tailings ponds, used to store mine waste.

    The number of dangerous tailings ponds incidents range from a high of nine in 2003 to a low of one (2005, 2006). In 2012, there were three dangerous occurrences, and two each in 2010 and 2011. There were five in 2009.

    In a written statement, mines ministry spokesman David Haslam simply pointed to the definition of dangerous occurrences in the province’s mine safety code.

    “Providing details on all dangerous and unusual occurrences related to tailings ponds for the past 12 years will require ministry staff to sort through all of the records and determine whether any information needs to be omitted pursuant to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, as some of the records may contain personal or financial information,” Haslam said.

    Despite the heightened interest in tailings pond safety following the collapse of Imperial Metals’ Mount Polley tailings dam on Aug. 4, the ministry refused to provide any further details.

    NDP mines critic Norm Macdonald said the public needs that detailed information on incidents such as dangerous occurrences at tailings ponds.

    “I think it’s fair to say that very consciously the Liberals have removed the ability of the broader population to keep track of things on public lands,” Macdonald said.

    The B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association (BCFIPA) has launched a complaint to privacy commissioner Elizabeth Denham, who announced last week her office would investigate whether the provincial government should have notified the public about potential risk connected to the Mount Polley tailings pond.

    BCFIPA executive director Vincent Gogolek said provincial laws require the release of government information if there’s risk of significant harm to the environment, health or safety.

    “If any of those 46 (dangerous occurrences at tailings ponds) fall into that category — and I think the commissioner’s office will be very interested in looking at some of those occurrences — then they do have to release it,” said Gogolek.

    The definition of dangerous occurrences in the province’s mine health, safety and reclamation code includes events that “might adversely affect the integrity” of dams and dikes. That includes cracking or caving in of a dam or dike, and unexpected seepage or appearance of springs on the outer face of a dam or dike.

    It also includes the loss of adequate freeboard (the distance between the water level and top of dam), and washout or significant erosion of a dam or dike.

    The province has said that in May 2014, the water level in Mount Polley’s four-square-kilometre tailings pond was too high, and that the company was ordered to reduce the level by pumping into adjacent pits.

    Dangerous occurrences also include events such as major cave-ins and unexpected inrushes of water, mud or slurry. Also on the list are premature explosions, mine vehicles out of control and fires that endanger people.

    The Mount Polley tailings dam collapse has generated significant scrutiny on the B.C. mining sector, with the provincial government, mining industry and Imperial Metals all acknowledging they must regain public trust.

    The collapse released 10 million cubic metres of water used in the mill, and 4.5 million cubic metres of tailings comprising finely ground rock containing potentially toxic metals.

    No one was injured or killed and water tests have passed drinking-water hurdles. But area residents, First Nations and environmental groups have continuing concerns about the long-term effects on the environment, particularly for fish.

    On Monday, B.C. Mines Minister Bill Bennett announced the chief inspector of mines ordered “extraordinary independent inspections” of about 60 mine waste sites, which must be competed by Dec. 1.

    The chief inspector reports also provide information on the number of geotechnical inspections carried out for some years between 2000 and 2012.

    The number of geotechnical inspections range from 17 (2002) to 41 (2003). In 2012, there were 26 inspections.

    No information is provided for the number of inspections in 2001 or between 2007 and 2011.

    Asked why there is no information on the number of inspections for some years, the mines ministry said the format changes from year to year.

    The mine ministry’s geotechnical section is responsible for the inspections at operating and closed mines with the focus on performance of tailings dams, waste-rock dumps, open-pit slopes, and underground openings.

    Mining projects are reviewed for the health and safety of the public and mine workers, as well as protection of the environment, says the chief inspector’s report from 2012.

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