Mount Polley mine accident weighs heavy on the minds of Gitxsan members considering LNG projects

The Mount Polley mine tailings breach that occured outside Quesnel on August 4 is not good news for proponents of B.C. liquefied natural gas projects and oil pipelines.

I’m up in Hazelton in northwestern B.C. this week, meeting with members of the Gitxsan First Nation about eviction notices some Gitxsan members have served to CN Rail and other companies in the Skeena River basin.

In Gitxsan territory, through which the provincial government is planning to permit the construction of at least two LNG pipelines, it’s obvious that the Mount Polley accident is on everybody’s mind.

The tailings pond breach was brought up by every single person I interviewed today.

Hloax (Bridie O'Brien), a wing chief of the Kyolugyet House, which has land within Gitxsan territory, described industrial accidents as a matter of probability.

“In my perspective, the cost [of pipeline projects] is way too great,” O’Brien said at her home in Old Hazelton. “Look at what is happening up in Quesnel right now....What are the people in that area going to do? How is that going to affect their economy? The traditional industry in Quesnel, how is that going to be affected?”

Gwaans (Bev Clifton Percival), negotiator for the Gitxsan Treaty Society, described the Mount Polley tailings pond breach as an example of such projects' possible “implications on the ground”.

“The big environmental disaster that happened outside Quesnel, the same can happen anywhere on any of these projects,” Clifton Percival said. “That is why there is opposition to Enbridge, that is why there is opposition to LNG.”

Delgamuukw (Earl Muldon), a member of the Gitxsan First Nation who lends his name to a landmark 1997 supreme court decision regarding aboriginal title, warned that there are potential accidents left behind by industrial projects all over B.C.

“Some of the things that could happen are happening now,” he said interviewed in his wood shop. “Down south of here, there is a big calamity right now. What’s happened is, the mining ponds are starting to break loose….And the thing is, they reap so much profit and they don’t give a shit about the land.”

With views like this, it's easy to understand why residents of Hazelton, northwestern B.C., are worried about industrial accidents like the Mount Polley mine tailings breach that occurred on August 4.
Travis Lupick
Comments (4) Add New Comment
Silver Summit
Gov't and media is totally downplaying the fall-out of this disaster that was just waiting to happen. I wonder how long until the poisoned water and fish-kill show up at the coast. Who will monitor the health of the animals and birds that come to feed on the now deadly upcoming salmon run. Will it affect surviving fish? Most Canadians have NO clue where this is. They hear that people in nearby towns (upstream) of the disaster won't have to worry, so they think the water is safe! How long till this hits the lower mainland? A couple more days or so? When the cleanup begins how will they stop further drift? Where will they put this? If there was no room, mining should have stopped! Period! From the video it was piled to the brim, and saturated. Designed to be abused and fail. Heads should roll in the gov't too. NO oversight. Pristine wilderness is destroyed forever, don't kid yourselves. Half the people living in our cities don't even have a clue what natural or nature is. Raised in shopping malls, believing money will keep them healthy & happy, and the gov't will protect them from the strange outdoors they don't know anything about. ...the nit-wits have forgotten their elementary school science already.
Shame on anyone who rewards corrupt politics with another vote or by not exercising their right to vote against them. It's the only thing that we have to protect our hard won democratic rights.
18
2
Rating: +16
Kevin
Do not let ANY LNG pipelines cross your territory. Fracking destroys the environment, even without an accident like the mine tailings breach
12
2
Rating: +10
Roy Henry Vickers
Thank you Bridie for making a stand. I pray more of our chiefs stand for protection of the lands of their ancestors, the land from which their names emerge. It's our responsibility to mentor good stewardship of our home and native land to those who will carry the names when we are gone.
We must keep our vision on the big picture and not the quick dollar. When disasters happen and rivers are destroyed we lose our way of life and destroy what we have for those who follow.
God help us to stay focused on protection of the environment.
20
1
Rating: +19
J. Brian Waddington
All of us who have reached the age of consent share in the responsibility for this disaster. By buying the products they produce, by working in the industry, by voting into power the people who make the decisions that created this disaster.
We need to come together as one people. As one people we need to change our lifestyles, we need to return to the role of Steward, we need to find a way to live that does not destroy needlessly.
6
2
Rating: +4
Add new comment
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.