Largest Canadian mine tailings spill ever and still no charges

Friday, August 02, 2019

Joe Foy

VANCOUVER - The five-year anniversary for the Mount Polley mine tailings dam failure is this Sunday and along with it comes the deadline to press charges against the mine’s owners, Imperial Metals. It’s one of the largest environmental disasters in Canadian history and the company hasn’t had to pay a single dime in fines. 

“This is outrageous! If charges are not laid by the August 4 deadline the company may never be charged at all,” said Co-Executive Director Joe Foy. “Our government would be sending the wrong message to B.C.’s mining industry. Go and pollute no one’s going to lift a finger. This sets a dangerous precedent for an industry that already needs to seriously clean up its act.”

The 2014 tailings dam failure at Imperial Metals’ Mount Polley mine located northeast of Williams Lake sent millions of cubic metres of slurry, water, tailings and sludge thundering down Hazeltine Creek and then pouring into Quesnel Lake. The Quesnel is one of the Fraser River system’s major salmon spawning and rearing watersheds. 

Imperial Metals has spent some effort to rehabilitate Hazeltine Creek, which had been scoured to bedrock in places, however, the company has not been required to retrieve the tailings which now sit on the bottom of Quesnel Lake. Studies are still ongoing to determine the extent and nature of environmental damage from the massive spill.

Even now, Imperial Metals is allowed to pump up to 52 million litres of wastewater a day into Quesnel Lake from the mine under permit from the B.C. government. 

“Imperial Metals has tenure all over B.C. and has even applied to start drilling for gold in the Skagit Headwaters surrounded by Manning and Skagit provincial Parks,” said Foy. “Clearly this proposal is being made in the wrong place by the wrong company and must be denied.”  


For more information, please contact:

Joe Foy | Co-Executive Director

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