VANCOUVER – The Mount Polley Mine operators have been ordered by the Ministry of Environment to take “immediate action” to stop the further release of mine tailings into nearby waterways.
The flow of the breach has decreased, but has not completely stopped. Tug boats have been working to boom the debris in the water and excavators are on standby in the event they are needed.
The Ministry of Environment says while significant progress has been made, more needs to be done.
They have ordered the company to submit their environmental impact assessments and their clean-up action plans.
This comes after a breach of the tailings pond on Mount Polley Mine sent five million cubic metres of toxic waste into Hazeltine Creek, Quesnel Lake and Polley Lake on August 4.
The disaster has led to a complete water ban for the area and a local state of emergency. The water ban extends to the entire Quesnel and Cariboo River systems up to the Fraser River, including Quesnel Lake, Cariboo Creek, Hazeltine Creek and Polley Lake.
READ MORE: Concerns about Mount Polley tailings pond were raised 3 years ago
On Tuesday, the president of Imperial Metals Corp. Brian Kynoch, said samples from Quesnel Lake following the breach “already almost meets drinking water standards.”
He said while water quality is a key issue, the water in the tailings facility is not toxic.
But now the Ministry of Environment has asked the company to submit a written summary of actions outlining steps to stop the release of mine tailings by Aug. 13.
The order also requires the company to undertake a preliminary environmental impact assessment and submit an action plan by Aug. 6, and to then undertake a comprehensive environmental impact assessment and submit a detailed action plan by Aug. 15.
The company must also report on their progress on a weekly basis.
Ted Laking, the Director of Communication for the Minister of the Environment released a statement on Wednesday about the breach, saying:
“This spill is unacceptable. Canadians expect companies to operate in a responsible manner that protects the environment. The Government of BC is leading government efforts to contain this spill. Environment Canada is ready to provide scientific advice and support if requested. Environment Canada is currently assessing the situation with respect to federal environmental and wildlife laws within its jurisdiction, and has opened an investigation. It would be inappropriate for us to comment further at this time. If any laws were broken, then those responsible must face the consequences.”