Mount Polley mine tailings disaster leads to salmon fishery closure downstream
Tailings continue to spill out of the storage pond at Imperial Metals Corporation's Mount Polley mine, three days after a dam failed and released millions of cubic metres of contaminated water and sand into Polley Lake and Quesnel Lake, near Likely, B.C.
"The flow out of the breach has decreased dramatically, but has not completely stopped. Imperial Metals continues to work to stop flow out of the pond," reads an update issued today (August 7) by the B.C. government.
"A small amount of tailings backed into the mouth of Polley Lake and the main slurry flow went down Hazeltine Creek where it meets Quesnel Lake. The slurry and a large debris pile appear to be stationary at this point. Hazeltine Creek was originally about four feet wide and is now up to 150 feet wide."
According to the B.C. government, the cause of the dam breach is still unknown.
As well, the province said that the federal government has issued a "precautionary closure" of part of the Chinook salmon fishery as authorities wait for the results of water tests.
The notice from Fisheries and Oceans Canada orders "no fishing for salmon" in the Cariboo River, between the confluences of Quesnel River and Seller Creek, and in the Quesnel River, below Poquette Creek.
The Quesnel River originates at Quesnel Lake and flows into the Fraser River.
"Initial water sampling took place the evening of Aug. 4, and samples were sent for testing early Tuesday morning. Drinking water testing continues daily at multiple sites (yesterday was Quesnel Lake and River). The first set of results is expected later today. Until that point, the environmental impact of the contaminated water on the local watershed remains unknown," the provincial update states.