Mount Polley mine tailings disaster leads to salmon fishery closure downstream

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      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.



      john nelson

      Aug 7, 2014 at 1:18pm

      very sadly to hear of this; as well, as its people that depends on the sockeye salmon, as well, as the headwaters, where the salmon spawn. I live at Lake Iliamna, that produces sockeye for Bristol Bay and with it; the proposed pebble prospect that will have the similiar tailings. we are fortunate to be in opposition of this proposed project, and what will happen, should pebble be in the same scenario as mount polley. sorry, to hear of this....


      Aug 7, 2014 at 2:01pm

      The Liberals used a "Minister of Deregulation" to minimize environmental protection and accepted $167,000 in contributions from Imperial Minerals. Who is surprised by the current disaster?

      Calm down hippies

      Aug 7, 2014 at 3:28pm

      Gonna go out on a limb here and say that this really isnt as bad as people are making it out to be. The sediment will settle and the fish will be just fine.

      Martin Dunphy

      Aug 7, 2014 at 3:47pm

      Calm down:

      Thanks for the post. However, depending on the level of sedimentation in Quesnel Lake and its tributaries, sockeye spawning could be severely affected. Suspended sediment can delay spawning, and settled sediment on gravel spawning beds along lakeshores can suffocate eggs, regardless of toxicity.

      Justa Voter

      Aug 8, 2014 at 10:26am

      In this world, shipmates, sin that pays its way can travel freely, and without a passport; whereas Virtue, if a pauper, is stopped at all frontiers.

      --MOBY DICK, Chapter IX

      Aug 8, 2014 at 11:01am

      Its the people with the attitude of "calm down hippies" that gets us in these situations to begin say your going to go out on a limb....have a good fall you moron!!!!!!!!

      Ted Campbell

      Aug 8, 2014 at 1:43pm

      I always watch for both sides to line up with "absolute" opinions when it comes to situations like Mt. Polley. Here's my take. IT AIN'T GOOD. but IT AIN'T A DISASTER either. I grew up in Kimberley when the Sullivan mine & the concentrator dumped everything into the Mark Creek. That was a disaster! If the Sullivan mine were discovered today I doubt it would ever open. The valley is too narrow to build containment. The upside of Mt. Polley is we will develop stronger criteria with which to measure. Every person that commented uses metal one way or another, we have to (and we will) find better and safer ways to extract and recycle them.