With significant public input having been received on the restart application by Mount Polley Mine Corporation and a decision expected shortly, public input is now being sought to help ensure the company has the foremost remediation and restoration plan in place by early next year for the longer term. The temporary re-start evaluation process is separate and distinct from the longer-term environmental remediation and restoration process.
The Post Event Environmental Impact Assessment Report is now posted for public comment.
Under the May 27, 2015 amendment of the Aug. 5, 2014 Pollution Abatement Order, Mount Polley Mining Corporation was required to complete the report.
The report outlines the environmental impact as a result of the Aug. 4, 2014 tailings pond breach. It includes physical, chemical and biological impact information collected from the spill, allowing better understanding and planning for long-term mitigation and restoration.
The report is being presented to First Nations, local community members, regional district representatives and the Environmental Working Group.
Information in this report will help shape Phase 2 (The Remediation and Restoration Phase) as the Province oversees the planning and implementation of mitigation and offset measures. The Remediation and Restoration Plan is expected to be developed in early 2016. Remediation efforts and ongoing restoration work in this phase will run through summer 2016 and beyond.
Notable findings in Mount Polley Mining Corporation’s report include:
- Approximately 132 hectares (236 acres) of land were impacted by the spill.
- Approximately 181 hectares (447 acres) of Quesnel Lake bottom are covered by sediment with a depth of up to 10 metres.
- Turbidity levels in Quesnel Lake are near or at normal levels and water quality has improved over time.
The Province is dedicated to restoring, strengthening and protecting our environment, and ensuring the safety of tailings management facilities at mines in British Columbia. Independent investigations by the Conservation Officer Service and the chief inspector of mines on the Mount Polley incident are underway.
Much has already been done since the breach, and environmental remediation work continues. Efforts by Mount Polley Mining Corporation to mitigate the impact of spring freshet this past season were successful. The stabilization of Hazeltine Creek was just completed, furthering work that has already seen the tailings pond reinforced.
Information and lessons learned from this spill event will inform the Province’s world-leading land-based spill regime announced June 15, 2015 including future preparedness, response and recovery actions.
Final comments to the ministry on this report are due on Sept. 12, 2015.
The report, along with all information on the Mount Polley incident, can be found at the ministry’s dedicated webpage: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/eemp/incidents/2014/mount-polley/
Mary Polak, Minister of Environment -
“This report is an important step toward developing a long-term plan for environmental monitoring, restoration and remediation. Protecting sensitive ecosystems and ensuring environmental protection is our priority. I welcome public input in achieving this.”
Bill Bennett, Minister of Energy and Mines -
“We continue to make progress in addressing the breach at Mount Polley mine by working with First Nations, communities, labour and the mining industry. We are taking a leadership role in Canada and internationally to learn from the Mount Polley incident and do everything we can to ensure it never happens again.”
Ministry of Environment