Mine Information – Northern Shuswap Tribal Council
Northern Shuswap Tribal Council

Mine Information

Mt. Polley Community Meeting_Jan.28-16

NEW – Mt. Polley Update – learn more about plans for returning to full operations.

New – NStQ Mining Policy


MountPolleyMeetingPlease click on the Poster for a larger view.


 

Mount Polley one year later: Lives still disrupted – lessons still to be learned

Soda Creek and Williams Lake Indian Bands vow to keep up pressure on government and industry

Williams Lake. BC. July 31, 2015: The massive disruption to communities and the environment caused one year ago by the Mount Polley Tailings Pond disaster is far from over, the front line First Nations warned today.

Soda Creek (Xat’sull) Chief Donna Dixon and Williams Lake Indian Band Chief Ann Louie said the premature reopening of the mine last month with important studies still outstanding leave the communities with uncertainty that the problems have been fixed, or that lessons have really been really learned – for this region and for all areas where tailings pond collapses are a threat.

“This last year has hugely affected our community, and businesses, workers, leadership – and it has only just begun,” said Chief Dixon. “We can understand that mine employees want to get back to work, but it needs to be done right if those jobs are to be secure and we are to avoid new problems. And those of us, First Nations and non-aboriginal, who depend on the land and water, have a right to a safe, secure future.

“The Aug. 4, 2014, disaster has taken up the majority of our time and taken away from other important aspects of our community. We need to ensure that this continues to be a lesson to everyone, especially government and industry, that things must change!  We cannot continue to put money before environmental concerns and expect to be successful in the end,” said Chief Dixon.

Chief Louie said: “The events of Aug. 4 last year and the subsequent focus on mining practices and regulations in BC have made it clear the mining industry requires greater scrutiny. Families had their livelihoods destroyed. The lands and waters have been impacted forever. Quesnel and Polley Lakes will never be the same. The salmon fishery has suffered a major impact.

Chiefs Dixon and Louie said the BC government has take some positive steps, including First Nations representation on the code review panel, and signing a Letter of Understanding with their two First Nations that created a framework for pursuing key reforms covering such matters as management of tailings facilities, the antiquated free entry exploration system, and the environmental assessment processes. But, they said, the proof of the Government’s commitment will be in its actions.

“We have worked very hard over the last year to have BC hold the company to its obligations to clean up the impacted areas and thought we were making some progress, but the premature re-opening of the mine before all the facts are in is a serious concern to us.” said Chief Louie.

Chief Louie pointed out there has only been an interim opening of the Mount Polley mine and said no permanent re-opening will be possible without First Nation consent – and that can only be earned if the outstanding issues are genuinely addressed to their satisfaction. “The government must continue to work with us and the BC First Nations Energy and Mining Council (FNEMC) to change the mining legislation,” said Chief Louie.

Chief Dixon said all British Columbians have a vested interest in reform, noting the Mount Polley Panel Report warned the province on average risks two similar disasters per decade unless changes are made, and that a study by the FNEMC shows over 200 communities and 50-80% of BC’s salmon stocks are in the potential fallout shadow of 35 tailings ponds at 26 mines on 48 key Northern BC key watersheds.

“We will hold BC to its promise to implement all the recommendations of the Mount Polley Panel review as a province-wide priority,’ said Chief Dixon.

“We must ensure this type of disaster never happens again, and to prevent the pollution of our water and waterways. This will also require reviewing online staking and placer mining,” said Chief Louie.

The Chiefs were supported in their comments by provincial leadership. The BC First Nation Summit’s Grand Chief Ed John said: “The anniversary of the breach of the tailings facility at Mount Polley is a grim reminder of the risks in the mining industry of what can go wrong even where there are standards and government oversight.  We must learn from this tragedy which impacted communities, waterways, animals and fish and not allow it to happen again.”

Media Contacts:

Chief Donna Dixon: Phone: 250-989-2355. d.dixon@xatsull.com

Chief Ann Louie: Phone: (250) 296-3507. Ann.Louie@williamslakeband.ca


 

February 2, 2015 MEDIA ADVISORY

First Nations leaders to provide response to Mt. Polley Investigative Panel Report

Coast Salish Territory (Vancouver): First Nations leaders from the Xat’sull
First Nation, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs and the First Nations Summit will
respond to the Mt. Polley Investigative Panel Report released by the Ministry of
Environment on Friday, January 30, 2015. The independent report was in
response to the August 4, 2014 Mount Polley tailings pond breach which
occurred approximately 75 kilometers southeast of Quesnel.

First Nations leaders will discuss the findings of the investigative panel report
and recommendations, a path forward to ensure this disaster is never repeated,
and the recently released Northern Shuswap Tribal Council (NSTQ) mining policy.
First Nations leaders in attendance will include:

Chief Bev Sellars, Xat’sull First Nation
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Union of BC Indian Chiefs
Grand Chief Edward John, First Nations Summit

Brian Olding, an environmental consultant for the NSTQ, will also be in
attendance. Olding was previously hired jointly in 2011 by the Williams Lake
Indian Band, the Xat’sull First Nation and Mount Polley mine owner Imperial
Metals, to conduct an independent review, including a technical assessment
report on the proposed discharge of water from the Mount Polley tailings pond.

Background information:
The NSTQ mining policy can be found at
http://northernshuswaptribalcouncil.com/?page_id=765
Date and time: Tuesday, February 3, 2015
11:00 am. PDT
Location: Union of BC Indian Chiefs Office
342 Water Street – 5th floor
For further information, please contact:
Colin Braker
First Nations Summit: 604 926 9903
Don Bain
Union of BC Indian Chiefs: 604 684 0231


 

BC FIRST NATION WOMEN CALL ON MINING INDUSTRY AND PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT TO TAKE VISIONARY APPROACH

25 Jan 2015

Williams Lake, BC. Jan, 25, 2015: This week’s annual Vancouver Roundup could be a turning point if the BC mining industry and the provincial government can shake off the past and adopt a visionary approach, says BC’s First Nations Women Advocating Responsible Mining.

“If this year’s Roundup focuses on how to hold on to control of the industry rather than sharing it, then we will remain on a path of confrontation and BC will be in no position to capitalize when the markets rebound,” said FNWARM Chair Bev Sellars, who is also Chief of the Xat’sull (Soda Creek) First Nation.

“But this can be a watershed year that places the province at the forefront of the mineral extraction sector in the 21st Century – if change is accepted and First Nations are embraced as true partners.”

Chief Sellars likened the decision now facing the BC industry and government to the one that faced the all-male establishment when it was pressed to give women the vote. “Both can be seen as a battle between those who do not want to share power and control, and those who realize that change is both inevitable and for the better,” she said.

“Just as there were those who insisted women could not possibly be trusted with important decisions or political influence and should be kept in their place, so there are those today who would argue First Nations cannot be trusted to understand mining and business and should  be kept in their place,” said Chief Sellars.

“History proved how wrong the reactionaries of old were, and those who view First Nations today in the same dismissive way are equally wrong – morally, politically and economically.”

FNWARM believes change is inevitable and is being driven by a combination of: court victories culminating in the Tsilhqot’in Supreme Court ruling; International standards with the United Nations, UNDRIP the economic leverage First Nations now have; public support for fair treatment of First Nations and shared concern for the environment; and growing awareness of the flaws in the existing system as evidenced most recently by the Mount Polley disaster.

One way to create a new working relationship with First Nations is to treat seriously the growing number of communities that are developing their own regulations to govern mining and other resource developments on their traditional lands, such as the recently released and highly detailed mining policy and regulations released by Chief Sellars’ Xat’sull community and three other North Shuswap First Nations impacted by the Mount Polley disaster.

FNWARM also calls on the Roundup participants to embrace “aboriginal ranger” programmes to monitor and manage protected areas, and to ensure that where resource development does occur the regulations and conditions are respected and environmental impacts are carefully assessed.

FNWARM member and Xeni Gwet’in FN Councilor Marilyn Baptiste, whose Tsilhqot’in community is working to create a tribal park that would include Teztan Biny (Fish Lake) and the site targeted by Taseko Mines Ltd for its twice rejected New Prosperity open-pit mine, said: “Who better to take on these roles than the people who live in the mostly remote areas where projects are pursued and have protected the lands and waters for countless generations.”

Media contacts:

Chief Bev Sellars: (250) 267-6924


 

MOUNT POLLEY:

Vancouver 24 Hours – Time extended for Polley investigation. By Patrick Colvin.

If Bill Bennett gets his way, Crown counsel will have three years — up from one — to investigate possible charges against Imperial Metals over the Mount Polley tailings breach. The minister of energy and mines introduced the amendment to the Mines Act Thursday, but the amendment is designed to work retroactively, dating back to Aug. 1 2014 so it can include the Mount Polley incident. “We were going to update this legislation in any case, but with the Mount Polley situation, we wanted to just ensure that we don’t get to a point in the summer where the Crown prosecutor feels their office doesn’t have enough time to assess what charges should be laid,” said Bennett. “We’re just not going to take a chance on that.” When asked why the amendment was introduced now instead of back in August, Bennett explained the priorities of his office. “The first priority was to make sure that the company and government did everything possible to minimize the environmental impact,” he said. After the issues of environmental impact and human safety were evaluated, the next imperative was making sure that Imperial Metals was doing everything within their power to trap and collect contaminants. Following that came the independent investigation, the investigation from the chief mines inspector, and the investigation from the conservation officer. “And following all of that, the next priority for me was to make sure that the legislation got updated,” said Bennett. Currently the Mines Act provides less time for Crown counsel to investigate and to lay charges than the Forest and Range Practices Act and the Environmental Management Act, the amendment would bring the three acts into alignment with regards to the time limit for pursuing charges.

…Full story: http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/2014/10/23/time-extended-for-polley-investigation

 

Vancouver Sun – Gold and copper mine’s tailing dam collapsed last summer releasing potentially toxic metals. By Gordon Hoekstra.

An industry rating for Imperial Metals’ management of the water and potentially toxic finely-ground rock from its Mount Polley mine will not be released. The Mining Association of Canada made the decision as a result of the collapse of the earth-and-rock dam that had held back millions of cubic metres of water and fine-rock tailings at Mount Polley. The self-audited grades would have been compiled before the Aug. 4 dam collapse in the B.C. Interior, about an hour by road southeast of Williams Lake. Imperial Metals was supposed to report out its tailings management grades for the gold and copper mine — as part of a program to improve mining practices — for the first time late last year. At least one member of a community of interest advisory panel for the mining association says the grade should have been reported out, as the idea behind the five rankings (ranging from C to AAA) is to provide transparency and accountability to the public. The mining association should reveal Mount Polley’s scoring, said Nathan Lemphers, a former official with the Pembina Institute who is pursuing a PhD at the University of Toronto. … Mining Association of Canada (MAC) president Pierre Gratton said the association felt it would be inappropriate to publish the company’s results in light of the tailings dam collapse. “The (association) members wanted to have more comfort and more confidence in what Imperial had assessed themselves at, and asked them to do a re-assessment,” he said. Gratton did not directly answer a question on whether the company was asked to reassess their tailings management because the grade they had given themselves was good, and it would have been embarrassing to report it. …Full story: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Mount+Polley+rating+released/10762122/story.html

 

(CKNW AM) AM980 – Residents calling for more mine inspections at Mount Polley. By Shelby Thom.

Residents in the Quesnel region whose livelihoods were threatened after the Mount Polley tailings pond disaster are welcoming more mine inspections, but say it’s only part of the problem. Premier Christy Clark says her government will hike the budget this year for BC’s Ministry of Energy and Mines by nearly $10 million dollars in an effort to improve safety and efficiency. Doug Gook, a third generation logger in Quesnel, says mining companies need to take more responsibility. “Of course the public needs to support the necessary levels of inspections, but I think in so many ways that has to be included in the upfront costs that corporations need to put forward to keep mines safe and to build them properly.” Gook is participating in a Vancouver panel discussion called the blowout at Mount Polley mine.

Link: http://www.cknw.com/2015/01/27/63358/


Shuswap First Nations push mining guidelinesRules carry little legal weight but would be foolish for companies to ignore, experts say

By Nelson Bennett

A new mining policy issued by four Shuswap bands could bring more certainty for companies wanting to develop new mines in the region.
Or it could add a layer of bureaucracy that sends investment out of B.C., similar to the 1990s, when NDP anti-mining policies scared mining and exploration companies away from B.C.
It depends on how the B.C. government responds to it, says a lawyer specializing in aboriginal law.
On December 1, the Northern Secwepemc te Qelmucw (NStQ) published a new set of guidelines for mining and exploration within the claimed territories of four bands near Williams Lake: the Xat’sull, T’exelc, Tsq’escen’ and Stswecem’c/Xgat’tem.
The 55-page document has been in the works for a couple of years, but Jacinda Mack, mining co-ordinator for the NStQ, said the Mount Polley mine disaster has added urgency to publishing the new guidelines. Mount Polley is one of four operating mines in the NStQ’s claimed territory, which is still the subject of treaty negotiations.
“It really affirmed for us that we had to get this policy out there in public,” Mack said.
“One of the biggest things on our plate is dealing with the cleanup. This policy really lays out the expectations for how we want best practices to be adhered to.”
The policies are aimed at operating mines and new exploration and development projects.
In addition to setting out the rules for mine development in the Shuswap, the NStQ wants the province to reform its open-staking process, which Mack said allows anyone with a credit card to stake a claim online – something that has spawned a proliferation of small placer mines.
The new policies state that NStQ consent is needed before any mining can take place in the claimed territory, which includes Williams Lake and Clinton to the west, Kamloops to the south and Revelstoke to the east.
The bands’ regulations also include requiring revenue sharing and a polluter-pays principle that will require the Crown to cover the expense of environmental cleanup if a mining company defaults on that responsibility.
One policy that might make some companies nervous states that the bands “will consider the past performance of a proponent in evaluating a proposed mining activity.”
So if Imperial Metals (TSX:III) wanted to explore in NStQ territory, the Mount Polley incident could weigh against it.
In addition to Mount Polley, there are three other operating mines in the defined region: Gibraltar, run by Taseko Mines Ltd. (TSX:TKO); Barkerville Gold Mines Ltd.’s (TSX-V:BGM) QR Gold mine; and the Black Dome gold mine, operated by Sona Resources Corp. (TSX-V:SYS).
So just how seriously should mining and exploration companies take the new policies? Thomas Isaac, national aboriginal law practice leader for Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP, said there’s both a legal and a political answer.
The legal answer is simple.
“This has no standing at law,” he said. “They don’t have proven aboriginal title. The law is absolutely clear: it’s Crown land, until proven otherwise, and government laws apply.”
But First Nations can prove “otherwise” through the courts. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court of Canada affirmed the Tsilhqot’in First Nation’s title over 2% of its traditional territory, formerly Crown land, as well as hunting and trapping rights extending beyond that land base. The Tsilhqot’in have also sketched out new policies for resource extraction within their territories.
Isaac said the political answer to the question of First Nation authority over mining activities remains to be decided.
“The real question is: ‘What is the government of British Columbia’s answer to this document?’ That is to say, will the government of B.C. affirm – as they should – that provincial laws apply, and government ultimately has the sovereign authority to govern in respect of those lands?”
Asked for a reaction to the new NStQ policies, Energy and Mines spokesman David Haslam wrote that the government is reviewing them, along with the Tsilhqot’in decision.
David Rosenberg, the lawyer who represented the Tsilhqot’in in the landmark Roger William case, agrees that First Nations mining policies have no legal standing, unless the First Nation in question has clear title to the land.
“But that does not mean these new guidelines can be ignored. That would be foolish.
“It is no longer business as usual. Government and industry should pay careful attention to the Tsilhqot’in Nation decision and particularly what the Supreme Court said in paragraph 92.
“If a First Nation establishes aboriginal title to lands that are presently claimed, then projects may be rolled back and provincial laws may be held to be invalid with respect to those lands.”
Mack said the new guidelines should not be viewed as anti-mining, adding that mining employs many First Nations workers.
“This policy isn’t about shutting down mining. It’s about promoting fair, safe, best practices for currently operating mines and for new mines.”
As forestry and energy companies have learned, working directly with First Nations in B.C. before entering government review processes can result in successful partnerships – something the mining sector has been accused of being slow to realize.
The Haisla and Nisga’a, for example, have become important players in multibillion-dollar liquefied natural gas and pipeline projects.
www.biv.com/article/2014/12/shuswap-first-nations-push-mining-guid


News Release

First Nations establish clear mining policy and rules for resource companies
WILLIAMS LAKE, BC. Dec.1, 2014:

The Northern Secwepemc te Qelmucw Leadership Council (comprised of the Xat’sull, T’exelc, Tsq’escen’ and Stswecem’c/Xgat’tem First Nations, near the city of Williams Lake, BC) announced today its four First Nations have jointly adopted a comprehensive and detailed mining policy that will be applied to all existing, proposed and future projects that involve or impact on its lands, waters and rights.
The policy, and a companion tool kit to manage its implementation and enforcement, was developed by the Fair Mining Collaborative and covers everything from efforts to stake claims, through every stage of the mining process, to agreement compliance and benefits from operating mines, to mine clean-up. It is a clear statement of leadership and authority by the Northern Secwepemc within their stewardship and title lands.
“Since mining arrived in BC First Nations have been ignored and imposed upon, and more recently, as the courts have reaffirmed our rights, some have argued that they do not know what First Nations want and there are no rules to play by,” said Chief Bev Sellars of the Xat’sull (Soda Creek), First Nation, which first commissioned the project in 2013.
“With this Mining Policy we can no longer be ignored or imposed upon, and the Province and industry can no longer claim they do not know how to work with us – this document spells that out in clear, specific terms,’’ said Chief Sellars. Chief Ann Louie of the T’exelc (Williams Lake Indian Band), said: “The Mount Polley tailings pond disaster that has affected our communities has reinforced our decision to proceed with this very carefully developed policy, but the impetus for it was the cumulative effect of more than 150 years of bad mining practices and devastating impacts on First Nations in BC.”
“For years we warned that the Mount Polley dam was a disaster waiting to happen and we were ignored. This NStQ Mining Policy is designed to make sure that this does not happen again, and provide us with the tools to monitor and ensure compliance with safety and all other regulation and conditions imposed on any mines that are allowed,” said Chief Louie. Tsq’escen’ (Canim Lake) Chief Mike Archie said: “This is not a draft document; it is a carefully researched and clearly written policy which states what will be required for any mine work at any level to proceed. And we have developed the tools to ensure our people have the knowledge of First Nations Title and Rights, and mining laws and regulations, to enforce it and ensure compliance with any agreements.
“BC’s mining laws need reforming – from free-entry claims staking, to the environmental review process, to the monitoring and enforcement of mine regulations and clean-up commitments – but while British Columbians are being forced to wait for government and industry to wake up to this reality, we intend to ensure that we reform what happens on our lands.”

Stswecem’c/Xgat’tem (Canoe & Dog Creek First Nation) Chief Patrick Harry said: “This is not about ending all mining. It is about ending the practice of anyone being allowed to stake a claim anywhere they want, exploring wherever they want and developing projects regardless of our rights, concerns and objections.

“It is about making sure the right projects are accepted and done the right way, and that their operation, maintenance and adherence to conditions are monitored. We invite government and industry to work with us on this, not fight against us, as we are offering a way forward that ends confrontation and stagnation.”

Amy Crook, Executive Director of the Fair Mining Collaborative said the NStQ Mining Policy was thoroughly researched, took the best of BC government regulations and the best practices of other jurisdictions in Canada and other countries, and built on excellent work already done by the BC First Nations Mining and Energy Council regarding policies and benefit agreements.

“This policy gives First Nations a practical plan and the tools to back it up. It gives them the recourses to deal with governments and companies as equals from a position of knowledge and strength,’’ said Ms. Crook.

Dave Porter, CEO of the BC First Nations Energy and Mining Council, welcomed the NStQ Mining Policy, and said he believes industry and all British Columbians stand to benefit from it through more stability and clarity for investment, and improved monitoring and enforcement of mining regulations, conditions and impact on the environment.

“Everyone wants more certainty and to avoid confrontation, bad projects, environmental disasters, and fortunes wasted on stalled and rejected projects,” said Mr. Porter. “I believe First Nations mining policies are essential to achieve this by focusing on sustainable projects whose social and environmental risks do not outweigh the targeted profit benefits for their proponents, and which create genuine shared benefits for all parties.”

Xat’sull First Nation Chief Sellars summed up the policy by saying: “Since colonization it has been the government’s and industry’s way or the highway. That has to change. We are taking the lead in promoting safer and more accountable industry practices in Northern Secwepemc Territory.”

Xat’sull First Nation: NStQ Mining Co-ordinator Jacinda Mack: Cell: (250) 302.1739

Williams Lake Indian Band: Economic Dev. Officer Kirk Dressier: Office: (250) 296 3507 Ext. 116

Link to NStQ Mining Policy: http://northernshuswaptribalcouncil.com/?page_id=765

Link to NStQ Tool Kit: http://northernshuswaptribalcouncil.com/?page_id=765


 Community Open House Notice

The Hon. Mary Polak, Minister of Environment, along with Coralee Oakes, MLA
for Cariboo North, and Donna Barnett, MLA for Cariboo-Chilcotin, invite you join
them to meet and discuss ongoing work, and next steps to mitigate the Mount
Polley breach and environmental remediation.

This community meeting will include presentations by the Ministry of
Environment and the Mount Polley Mining Corporation. Representatives from the
Ministry of Energy and Mines, Interior Health, and the Cariboo Regional District
will also be available to answer questions.

When: Sunday, November 23, 2014
Where: Likely Community Hall, 6281 Rosette Lake Road
Time: 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Everyone is welcomed and feedback from community members is encouraged.
Coffee and tea will be provided.

When: Monday, November 24, 2014
Where: Gibraltar Room, Cariboo Memorial Recreation
Complex, 525 Proctor Street, William’s Lake
Time: 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Everyone is welcomed and feedback from community members is encouraged.
Coffee and tea will be provided.
MountPolley


 

WLIB Community Meeting Notice

When:         Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Where:        Elizabeth Grouse Gymnasium

           Community Hall

Time:          5:00 – 8:00 pm

All NStQ community members and members from Esket are welcome and encouraged to attend.

        Dinner will be provided

Updates on the Mount Polley Mine Tailings Breach and Action Plan will be provided

MntPolleyNoticeClick on the image for a larger view


 

First Nations Health Authority – Mount Polley Mines Communique FNHAMountPolleyMineCommunique

Please click on the image for the entire document


 

WATER TESTING AND FISH SAMPLING ON THE FRASER RIVER UPDATE

There is a good cross-section of sampling locations for both tissue and water sampling.

A big thank you goes out to the First Nations who have provided the tissue samples, to FNHA for processing the tissue samples and collecting the water samples, and FRAFS for communicating .

All of the information related to the samples processed by the FNHA will be available at the FNHA website, but I will provide a brief summary here:

Water samples (2-4 days to process after receipt by lab) – locations and dates:
• Just downstream from Quesnel River confluence – shipped Monday (Aug 18th)
• Rudy Johnson’s bridge – shipped (Aug 19)
• Gang Ranch bridge (Aug 19)
Tissue samples taken so far (1-2 weeks turnaround):
• shipment of 5 sockeye & 1 chinook (Chilcotin system) last Wednesday (mix of 2013 and 2014 fish)
• sockeye samples 7 – 12 (shipped from Williams Lake Aug 20) – 6 sockeye: 2 from Chilcotin (Farwell Canyon), 2 from Xatsull, 2 from Gang Ranch Bridge (downstream from Chilcotin confluence)
Tissue samples expected 1-2 weeks turnaround:
• 7 tissue samples from Quesnel (expected to be sockeye but may include chinook): Nazko and Ltako Dene
• 1 sockeye from Esdilah
• 9 from mainstem Fraser mid-fraser (upstream and downstream of the Thompson River): to be shipped hopefully August 21
30 total tissue: from this round listed above.

You may visit the FNHA website www.fnha.ca and the FRAFS website www.frafs.ca for more information.

 

Pete Nicklin, R.P.Bio.
Fraser Fisheries Biologist
Fraser River Aboriginal Fisheries Secretariat

 


 

Monday, August 18, 2014
First Nations and government partner on response to Mt. Polley Mine breach

Environment Monday, August 18, 2014 10:40 AM


Williams Lake Indian Band and the Soda Creek Indian Band (Xatśūll First Nation) signed a letter of understanding with the Government of British Columbia to work in partnership to address all aspects of the breach of the tailings storage facility that occurred at the Mount Polley Mine on Aug. 4, 2014.

The agreement has five components that will be conducted in accordance with First Nations traditions and scientific knowledge and recognizes that the health and safety of the public and workers, including members of the First Nations, are paramount:

1.    A principals table consisting of the Chiefs of the First Nations and the Ministers of Environment, Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, and Energy and Mines will oversee a government-to-government response.

2.    A senior officials committee from the three ministries and designates for the First Nations will be responsible for overseeing all of the response activities such as assessing impacts, clean up, remediation planning and decisions related to the future of Mount Polley mine. They will also address long-term funding requirements to respond to all aspects of the Mount Polley Mine incident.

3.    $200,000 to each First Nation ($400,000 in total) to cover costs already incurred and future costs related to the tailings pond breach.
4.    The recognition of the important economic contribution of mining to British Columbia and the commencement of a dialogue about existing laws, regulations and policies in relation to the mining sector in British Columbia.

5.    Agreement that the entities responsible pay for all costs and damages incurred in relation to the Mount Polley Mine Incident in accordance with applicable legislation.

The provincial government and First Nations have been clear since the breach occurred that finding out exactly what happened, ensuring this never happens again and moving quickly on remediation plans to protect and preserve the environment are top priorities.

Earlier this morning, the provincial government, with the support of the Williams Lake and Soda Creek Indian Bands, announced an independent engineering investigation into the tailings pond breach and steps to ensure all permitted tailings ponds across the province are safe.

The investigation will be led by a panel of experienced geotechnical experts who will have the ability to compel evidence and witness testimony. The Williams Lake and Soda Creek Indian Bands will appoint a liaison to work with the panel.

The panel will provide recommendations through a final report by Jan. 31, 2015. This report will be provided to government and the Williams Lake and Soda Creek Indian Bands at the same time and will then be made public.

Quotes:
Minister John Rustad, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation –
“I am pleased the Province has come together with the Williams Lake and Soda Creek Indian Bands to work in collaboration to oversee the response activities from the tailings pond breach at Mount Polley. There is a great deal of work ahead of us but I know our strong working partnership will help move the process along more quickly so local First Nations in the area can have confidence their natural environment is a safe place for their families.”

Minister Mary Polak, Minister of Environment –
“I’m confident we will work constructively with the local First Nations to build their trust and to create a forum to establish an ongoing relationship.”

Chief Bev Sellars, Soda Creek Indian Band (Xatśūll First Nation) –
 “Until now, there has not been the level of cooperation and collaboration required between the provincial government and our nations to adequately respond to the Mount Polley mine disaster. Not only does this agreement commit our respective governments to joint oversight and decision-making in regards to all aspects of response to the Mount Polley mine disaster, it also allows First Nations and the provincial government to begin a necessary conversation about the adequacy of existing laws, regulations and policy in regards to the overall mining sector in British Columbia.”

Chief Ann Louie, Williams Lake Indian Band –
“This letter of understanding is only the beginning of a process for mining reforms in British Columbia. The provincial government bears the responsibility to effectively collaborate with First Nations on a government-to-government basis on meaningful reforms to build confidence with all our communities that mineral exploration and mining is a safe industry. At this point that confidence still needs to be earned.”

Letter of Understanding follows as a backgrounder.
Media Contacts:
Lisa Leslie
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation
250 213-7724

BACKGROUNDER Letter of Understanding

Letter of Understanding between
Soda Creek Indian Band, Williams Lake Indian Band
And The Province of British Columbia

Guiding principles:
The Soda Creek Indian Band and the Williams Lake Indian Band (collectively, the “First Nations”) and the Province of British Columbia (“British Columbia”) agree to work in partnership, on a government-to-government basis through shared decision-making wherever possible, to jointly address all aspects of the tailings storage facility breach at the Mount Polley Mine (“Mount Polley Mine Incident”).
The First Nations and British Columbia (collectively, the “Parties”) agree that the processes for the joint oversight set out below will be conducted in accordance with the First Nations’ traditional protocols, having regard to both traditional and scientific knowledge, and as expeditiously as possible.

The Parties agree that the health and safety of the public and workers, including members of the First Nations, are paramount.
The Parties therefore agree as follows:

1.    The Parties agree to establish a principals table consisting of the Chiefs of the First Nations and the Ministers of Environment, Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, and Energy and Mines to oversee a government-to-government response to the Mount Polley Mine Incident (“Principals Table”).

2.    The Parties agree to establish a senior officials committee consisting of designates of the First Nations, and the Assistant Deputy Ministers of the Ministries of Environment, Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, and Energy and Mines, and other ministries as appropriate (“Committee”). The Committee shall be responsible for overseeing the following activities in response to the Mount Polley Mine Incident:

1.    assessing impacts, monitoring, cleanup, remediation planning and implementation, and any decisions related to the future of Mount Polley mine;

2.    developing a plan to provide safe access to the impact zone for the purposes of assessing archaeological and environmental impacts;
3.    discussing permitting required for future work at the Mount Polley mine;

4.    assessing the adequacy of existing laws, regulations and policies in relation to the Mount Polley Incident;

5.    addressing the First Nations’ immediate and long-term funding requirements to respond to all aspects of the Mount Polley Mine Incident;

6.    identifying economic opportunities for the First Nations to participate in responding to the Mount Polley Mine Incident;
7.    reporting back to the Principals Table; and
8.    addressing any other issues related to the Mount Polley Mine Incident as agreed to by the Committee.

The Parties agree that this letter of understanding does not fetter statutory decision makers in carrying out their duties and responsibilities under the relevant provincial laws and regulations that apply to the Mount Polley Incident.

3.    British Columbia agrees to provide $200,000 to each of the Soda Creek Indian Band and the Williams Lake Indian Band as soon as possible to cover costs already incurred and to be incurred in responding to the Mount Polley Mine Incident.

4.    The Parties acknowledge the impact of the Mount Polley Mine Incident on public confidence in mining and recognize the important economic contribution of mining to British Columbia. Accordingly, British Columbia, in partnership with the Soda Creek Indian Band and the Williams Lake Indian Band, commits to commencing a dialogue about existing laws, regulations and policies in relation to the mining industry in British Columbia.The scope and mechanism for this dialogue will be considered by the Senior Officials Committee and recommendations will be made to the Principals Table. Those future discussions will be informed by the collaborative work between the Parties on the Mount Polley Mine Incident.

5.    The Parties agree that the entities responsible, in accordance with applicable legislation, be required to pay for all costs and damages incurred in relation to the Mount Polley Mine Incident.
_________________
Chief Bev Sellars, Soda Creek Indian Band
_________________
Chief Ann C. Louie, Williams Lake Indian Band
__________________
The Honourable John Rustad, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation


 

Northern Shuswap Tribal Council

FISHERIES NOTICE!

August 11 2014
WATER TESTING AND FISH SAMPLING ON THE FRASER RIVER

NSTC Fisheries department has organized with the First Nations Health Authority to test the water quality and the safety of the salmon caught in the Fraser River. Water samples will be taken from two locations in the Fraser River at traditional fishing sites. Water sampling will occur the week of August 11 and again the week of August 18. The water will be tested from a human health perspective to ensure that it is safe for people to be working in the water. Sockeye salmon which have been caught at NSTQ traditional fishing sites will also be sampled. Both skin and muscle samples will be tested to check that fish are safe to eat. Sampling of the fish will also occur over a 2 week period.

We will be reporting the results of the testing as soon as we know them. Until we have the results of this testing the NSTC Fisheries department cannot make any other definitive statements about the health and safety of consuming fish caught in the Fraser River. The government of BC has issued a statement that the salmon in the Fraser River and its tributaries are safe for human consumption. We hope that the testing we are doing will confirm that.
For further inquiry contact Ernest Kroeker NSTC Fisheries Manager or Andrew Meshue NSTC Fisheries Coordinator @ 250.392.7361

Ernest Kroeker
Northern Shuswap Tribal Council
17 S. 1st Avenue
Williams Lake, BC V2G 1H4


(UBCIC Release – Coast Salish Territory/Vancouver – August 6, 2014)

In the early morning hours of August 4, BC Day, a catastrophic breach of Imperial Metals’ Mount Polley tailings pond sent a slurry-like mixture of 10 million cubic metres of water and 4.5 million cubic metres of fine sediment into Polley Lake. Hazeltine Creek and into Quesnel Lake. The breach has endangered not only drinking water for residents but the Quesnel, Horsefly and Mitchell salmon runs.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, responded “Like the Exxon Valdez, Mount Polley will be synonymous with one of the most disastrous environmental events in British Columbia. The frightening fact is both environmental disasters could have been prevented if there was vigorous government oversight by an effectively resourced agency bound by robust legislative and regulatory environmental safeguards. What we have now in BC and Canada, , as a consequence of weak environmental review procedures and the federal omnibus bills C-38 and C-45, are repugnant and reprehensible processes of rubber-stamp approvals that shamelessly pander to industry and tragically at the great expense of environmental devastation.”

Chief Bob Chamberlin, Vice-President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs stated Wild salmon is one of the greatest life-giving gifts of the Fraser watershed. First Nations throughout the Interior and along Coastal BC rely on the wild salmon runs of the Fraser for food, social, ceremonial and commercial fisheries. As of last night, Department of Fisheries and Oceans has banned salmon fishing in the Cariboo and Quesnel Rivers due to Mount Polley. Mount Polley will have an immediate and devastating effect on First Nations like Lhtako Dene, Lhoosk’uz Dene, Nazko and ?Esdilagh who may not be able to fish for salmon at all this year. First Nations are anxiously awaiting the water-test results, the possible DFO closures afterwards and the harmful impacts on future salmon runs of the Fraser.”

Chief Judy Wilson, Secretary-Treasurer of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs declared “The wholesale erosion of BC environmental protections represents the government’s dismissal of our Title, Rights and Treaty Rights. Our right to fish is meaningless if the fish are contaminated with or killed by arsenic, lead or mercury. Our right to hunt is pointless if the moose or deer show concentrations of selenium or cadmium. Mount Polley is why the UBCIC fully supported the Tsilhqot’in and Secwepemc as they opposed Taseko’s Prosperity Mine proposals. The UBCIC will follow the lead and will stand with First Nations impacted by Mount Polley.”

Media inquiries:
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip (604) 684-0231 Chief Bob Chamberlin (604) 684-0231
Chief Judy Wilson (604) 684-0231


Outside investigation promised for Mount Polley
by Tom Fletcher – BC Local News, Aug 12, 2014
Bill Bennett, Minister of Energy and Mines, expects to announce this week how the province will handle the inquiry into the Mount Polley tailings spill, and how the government will deal with tailings ponds throughout the province.
Bennett said he agrees with calls for an independent investigation into the tailings pond dam failure.
“There has to be some independent oversight and insight into that process,” Bennett told CKNW radio.
NDP energy and mines critic Norm Macdonald says an inquiry is definitely in order, but it should be independent of the government. Macdonald says the B.C. Liberal government bears responsibility for the spill because they have cut the number of people who do inspections significantly.
“Inspections at mines have fallen by 50 per cent since 2001,” Macdonald said.
Bennett said the reduction in inspections relates to gravel pits, aggregate producers and placer mines, which process surface gravel for minerals. Annual geotechnical inspections of large mines such as Mount Polley have not been reduced, he said.
Mine inspectors also visited Mount Polley in May of this year after the tailings pond exceeded its allowable water level during spring runoff. Bennett said the pond was restored to the permitted level, and it is the only such report on record for the mine.
Brian Kynoch, president of mine owner Imperial Metals, said the pond level was 2.5 metres below the top of the dam and within the permitted operating level when the breach occurred Aug. 4.
Ministry of Environment records show the mine has had an effluent permit since 1997, and has operated since startup with a water surplus due to precipitation. In 2009 the company applied to amend the permit to allow discharge of up to 1.4 million cubic meters of water a year to discharge dam seepage effluent into Hazeltine Creek.
That permit was approved in 2012 after an independent report was commissioned to examine water quality impacts from sediment and contaminants, and measures needed to control them.
With the mine and its tailings facilities expanding and an exhausted pit being converted to underground mining, Mount Polley applied for another amendment to discharge up to three million cubic meters of treated water to Polley Lake.
That permit amendment was being considered at the time of the tailings dam breach.


Mount Polley mine spill fallout: Neskonlith deliver Ruddock eviction notice, Red Chris blockade continues
Tahltan and Neskonlith oppose development of Imperial Metals mines in their neighbourhoods
CBC News Posted: Aug 14, 2014
Neskonlith Chief Judy Wilson delivered an eviction notice to Imperial Metals at its Vancouver office, demanding it abandon exploratory work it has undertaken on its Ruddock Creek mine site. (CBC)
Imperial Metals is dealing with more than just local fallout from the tailings pond breach that flooded and polluted waterways near its Mount Polley gold and copper mine in B.C’s Cariboo earlier this month.
‘The Mount Polley devastation has really changed things.’- Anita McPhee, former Tahltan Central Council president
The Vancouver-based mining company is not only issuing layoff notices this week at Mount Polley — it is also facing local opposition from First Nations groups over its two other principal mine properties in B.C: the Ruddock Creek lead and zinc property, in which it has a 50 per cent stake, and at the in-development Red Chris copper and gold property in B.C.’s Cassiar country.
At the Ruddock Creek mine site, 155 kilometres northeast of Kamloops, the Neskonlith Indian Band announced Wednesday it would be issuing an eviction notice to the mining company for exploratory work it is conducting.
“We don’t want them in our watershed above our communities here,” said Chief Judy Wilson.
The lead-zinc mine, which is in the pre-application phase of the provincial environmental assessment process, is located at the headwaters of the Adams River, a sacred area to the Secwepemc people.
Wilson, who was attending a conference of chiefs in Richmond Thursday morning, delivered the eviction notice in person to Imperial Metals in its downtown Vancouver office at 3 p.m. PT Thursday.
A company photo shows exploratory work being conducted in the area of the proposed Ruddock Creek lead-zinc mine site north of Kamloops, B.C. (Imperial Metals)
Bennett, Kynoch visit Red Chris blockade
Further north, approximately 80 kilometres south of Dease Lake, protesters from the Tahltan Nation entered into the sixth full day of a blockade of the Red Chris gold and copper property.
Rhoda Quock, spokesperson for the protest group, which calls itself the Klabona Keepers, said the accident at Mount Polley spurred locals to action to protect the environment near this second gold and copper project.
A group of protesters calling themselves the Klabona Keepers began blockading the road to Imperial Metals’ Red Chris mine site south of Iskut, B.C., on Aug. 8. (Klabona Keepers/Facebook)
“We are very concerned and disturbed about the tailings pond spill at Mount Polley. We see no other alternative at the moment but to have all activity stop at Red Chris until we are certain that we can proceed safely,” she said in a written statement.
According to the Klabona Keepers, the Red Chris tailings pond was built on a fish-bearing lake at the headwaters of the Stikin River.
Former Tahltan Central Council president Anita McPhee said she and her members were told by Imperial Metals that the design of the tailings pond at Red Chris is virtually identical to the design of Mount Polley’s pond, which has failed.
She says the government must step forward to ensure the Red Chris project won’t end in an ecological catastrophe.
“Until the government can commit in writing to environmental standards set by the Tahltan people, then this mine cannot proceed as it stands,” McPhee said. “The Mount Polley devastation has really changed things.”
A photo shows the excavation of the tailings impoundment area at Imperial Metals’ Red Chris gold and copper property in northern B.C. A Tahltan spokesperson said the design of the pond is the same as that of the tailings pond that failed at Imperial’s Mount Polley gold and copper mine. (Imperial Metals)
Quock and McPhee said that B.C. Minister of Energy and Mines Bill Bennett and Imperial Metals president Brian Kynoch both visited the blockade on Highway 37, south of Iskut, on Wednesday.
Bennett and Kynoch reportedly committed to stopping development at the Red Chris Mine until it was deemed safe to proceed, and also committed to an independent third-party review of the mine plan.
Quock vowed the blockade would continue until such a time as the provincial government and the mine’s operator can demonstrate exactly what their commitments are to ensuring the safety the environment.
Imperial Metals’ B.C. properties
Property/mine Region Primary metals Status
Mount Polley Cariboo copper and gold operational/cleanup
Red Chris Cassiar copper and gold in development
Ruddock Creek* Central Interior zinc and lead exploratory
50 per cent stake Source: ImperialMetals.com


Government takes heartless stand against efforts to help First Nations devastated by Mount Polley tailings pond catastrophe
Musqueam Indian Band press release
COAST SALISH TRADITIONAL TERRITORY, Aug. 9, 2014 /CNW/ – In a heartless and illogical move, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is refusing to allow Secwepemc First Nations devastated by the worst mining disaster in BC history to apply some of their Section 35 fish for salmon to catches in Musqueam First Nation’s downstream waters.
The Secwepemc First Nations refuse to catch the salmon they rely on at this time of year because of the water contamination fears from the impact of Monday’s massive Mount Polley tailings pond breach, which sent millions of liters of mine sludge flooding into the rivers and tributaries in the Cariboo region at peak spawning season. First Nations are already finding dead fish in the debris field. Yet rather than recognize this and act out of common sense and decency, DFO is insisting any salmon caught in Musqueam waters before they head further up the water system must be counted against Musqueam’s quota.
Musqueam Chief Wayne Sparrow stated, “This event illustrates the difference between ancient First Nations cultures and the governments. When people are in need the First Nations response is: how can we help? We will invoke our traditional protocols and will respond to the Secwepemc people whose vital salmon resource is impacted. We simply respond to the needs of the Elders and Secwepemc Chiefs rather than apologize for the irresponsible actions of industry.”
On August 8th, the Musqueam held a teleconference with Chief Bev Sellars and Chief Ann Louie and offered to provide them with salmon from the mouth of the Fraser. Chief Wayne Sparrow stated, “it was a moving telephone discussion to hear of their loss and the fears that they have to collect salmon in their territory. We have great respect for the interior First Nations who hold the territories that incubate the eggs for all of our communities’ future use.”
Chief Bev Sellars from the Xatsull First Nation states, “we don’t believe the BC government’s water tests and have reviewed the list of toxic heavy metals that were released from the tailings dam earlier this week. The Provincial and Fed eral governments seem to be taking the position that the water tests are fine so no harm is done. They are doing their best to stand up for the mining industry and leave us in the background to suffer the consequences. Governments should not be apologists for the reckless acts of industry but should work to reassure and support the Elders need for salmon.”
MacLean’s magazine is calling the fears raised by First Nations as ‘eco-babble’ because now the initial water tests are not as serious as expected. Chief Ann Louie from the Williams Lake Indian Band states, “I challenge anyone to come up to our territory and look at this disaster and say everything is fine. We are talking about the respect for basic human dignity and telling us the water tests are fine and at the same time don’t go in the water confirms our fears that we should not consume the fish in the impacted area as a source of food for the coming winter.”
The Musqueam are asking for others to speak out against the government’s ridiculous position that penalizes any First Nation that attempts to help others in need. Regardless of this decision by governments we are committed to support these communities with healthy fish.
The Tsleil Waututh First Nation, a neighbour to the Musqueam, has also offered to support the Secwepemc people by providing fish.
Wayne Sparrow is the elected Chief of the Musqueam First Nation located at the mouth of the Fraser River. Bev Sellars is the elected Chief of the Xatsull First Nation and Ann Louie is the elected Chief of the Williams Lake Indian Band whose collective communities were directly impacted by the Mount Polley disaster. Their traditional territory is approximately 500 km north of Musqueam.
SOURCE Musqueam Indian Band


First Nations worry Mount Polley impact not as benign as claimed
Aboriginal and environmental groups seek independent testing of lakes, rivers
CBC News: August 11, 2014

Chief Bev Sellars, Xatsull First Nation
First Nations whose traditional territories have been spoiled by the Mount Polley tailings pond failure are seeking independent reviews of environmental testing already underway.
“We are going to be looking at getting independent scientists and people to help us determine whether if the disaster is as benign as they say, said Bev Sellars, Chief of the Xatsull First Nation, or Soda Creek Indian Band. “We don’t believe it is.”
The Chief of the Williams Lake Indian Band is taking also exception to the controlled release of water in Polley Lake into Hazeltine Creek. The runoff was approved after tests confirmed water quality close to historically safe levels.
“I don’t know that anybody knows the safety of the water testing that they’re doing right now is surface,” said Chief Ann Louie. “What about the sediments? I keep saying the plug that’s sitting in front of Polley Lake is huge.”
The tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C. released 10 billion litres of water and 4.5 million cubic metres of metals-laden sand, scouring out Hazeltine Creek and contaminating Polley and Quesnel lakes. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)
Environmental groups in the area, where the mine has operated for 17 years, say it’s still unclear what kind of minerals and heavy metals may be in the outflow.
The flow out of the breach has decreased dramatically, but has not completely stopped. Imperial Metals has begun building a temporary dike to stop flow out of the pond.
Staff from the First Nations Health Authority are working to determine if it’s safe to consume fish from the waterways, focusing on salmon tissue sampling in the confluence areas of the Quesnel and Fraser River.

Concerns over B.C.’s salmon population
The water quality advisory remains in place for communities that get their water from Polley Lake, Hazeltine Creek, Cariboo Creek and all parts of Quesnel Lake, as well as the Quesnel River south of 6236 Cedar Creek Road. This includes the communities of Winkley Creek, Abbott Creek, Mitchell Bay and the East Arm of Quesnel Lake.
Failure of an earthen dam, one week ago, released billions of litres of mine tailings into nearby creeks, lakes and rivers in the Cariboo region.
Environment Minister Mary Polak is appealing to people who knew of safety issues or concerns prior to the spill to come forward and speak with independent investigators on site.
If allegations are proven, she says the provincial government will deal with the matter directly.
A tailings pond for the Mount Polley mine in B.C. had its dam break on Aug. 4, 2014, spilling its toxic contents into Hazeltine Creek. In this aerial view, the contents from the tailings pond are seen flowing from Hazeltine Creek into Quesnel Lake near the town of Likely on Aug. 5. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)


First Nations Concerned about Environmental Impacts of Tailings Pond Breach
CFNR Terrace BC – Posted by: Melissa Shaw in News Leave a comment
First Nations say they’re concerned about potential environmental impacts after a mine tailings pond was breached yesterday sending five million cubic metres of wastewater into the surrounding lakes and rivers.
About 2,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools worth of wastewater spilled into Hazeltine Creek and Quesnel Lake.
The Cariboo Regional District has banned drinking, swimming and bathing in the entire Quesnel and Cariboo River systems right to the Fraser River.
The City of Quesnel says the drinking water is safe but they have shut down a well located close to the Quesnel River as a precaution.
In a statement released today, Imperial Metals, which owns the gold and copper mine, said the structure operated within design limits and specifications and they had no indication of an impending breach.
The company said they’re relieved that no one was hurt or injured.
Stocks in Imperial Metals also dropped 41 per cent shortly after 10 a.m. this morning.
Soda Creek Indian Band Chief Bev Sellars said she received a call from the Cariboo Regional District chair yesterday but she hasn’t heard anything from government agencies or Imperial Metals, even though the band has an agreement with the Mount Polley mine.
Sellars said they collect berries, medicines and hunt in the area around Quesnel Lake.
“This is a devastating thing for our communities. This is a classic example of why we fight against these mines because it’s a clash of cultures. Our economy we get from the land. You have to think about the other economy and you can’t just think of the bottom dollar because now all the money they made, it’ll never be enough to clean up that area.”
She said First Nations have tried unsuccessfully to change mining laws and wants the province to take responsibility for what happened.
Map of the affected area.

President of the Sto:lo First Nation Grand Chief Doug Kelly said his community depends on salmon from the Fraser River for food and ceremonial life. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans announced the opening of the Fraser River fisheries last week.
Kelly said he’s concerned that wastewater released into the river system could impact the salmon run this year.
He hopes the tailings pond breach sends a message to the Minister of Mines to be careful when approving mining projects.
“I [also] hope it sends a strong signal to the Minister of Environment that they cannot sit back and wait for disasters to happen, that they have to be identifying these threats. I’m hopeful that industry gets the message that they have to do their work responsibly.”
The B.C. Minister of Energy and Mines Bill Bennett will arrive at the site today and said the province is working with local officials to clean up the area.
The Cariboo Regional District is holding a public information session at the Likely Hall today at 4 p.m.
The meeting will allow residents to meet with government, industry and distict representatives and ask questions about the mine tailings pond breach.
About Melissa Shaw
Melissa Shaw first got involved in her school’s community radio station and newspaper but she’s always enjoyed a good story. She’s bounced from place to place covering everything from Idle No More protests, programs for new immigrants, controversial art projects and raccoons being rescued from dumpsters. Melissa thinks radio is awesome because anyone can tune in and take the news with them on the road or on the trail. Online news is great too because it’s everything mashed together at once and you get the full picture, complete with maps, photographs and mixed with the commentary of a good portion of the world.


First Nation announces blockade at new Imperial Metals mine
By Kristian Secher, The Tyee, August 8, 2014

A group of Tahltan Nation elders have blocked entry to Imperial Metals’ Red Chris mine near Iskut in northern British Columbia in response to a serious mining waste spill at the company’s Mount Polley mine.
Red Chris mine, a $500 million dollar copper-gold mine scheduled to open later this year, will join three active mining operations owned by Imperial Metals in B.C.
The elders, who stand under the name Klabona Keepers, sent out a notice earlier today announcing they would blockade the mine.
“In response to the Mount Polley mine tailings disaster and our serious concerns over the pending Imperial Metals Red Chris mine, the Klabona Keepers from the Tahltan Nation will blockade the Red Chris property Friday August 8, 2014 at 1 p.m.,” read the notice.
It’s not the first time Klabona Keepers have protested industrial development on Tahltan land; in 2006 they blocked development at Red Chris and the year after they successfully filed an injunction against construction of a road through their traditional territory.
The Keepers state on their website they are not opposed to economic development on their land so long their traditions and laws are obliged. So far Imperial Metals has not received endorsement by the First Nation.
“The mine does not have all of the permits required to open,” wrote Chad Norman Day, president of Tahltan Central Council, in a press release.
He added the company and the First Nation have been trying to negotiate an Impact Benefit Agreement (IBA), a contract that details impacts and responsibilities of both parties, and how the associated aboriginal community will benefit from the operation through employment and economic development.
To date, no IBA has been signed, Day noted, and with the incident at Mount Polley the two sides were no closer to reaching an agreement.
“This latest news obviously means we have new questions and concerns that we must discuss with Imperial Metals about the tailings ponds at Red Chris,” he wrote.
In the wake of the Mount Polley breach, Interior Health banned all water from Quesnel Lake, even though preliminary tests have shown that the water meets Canadian drinking water standards. This afternoon Interior Health lifted the ban for the town of Likely, B.C. No more than 200 people remain impacted by the water ban.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada has closed all fisheries in the area and is monitoring the situation as a sockeye salmon run in the range of 845,000 to 2.95 million is headed for the contaminated lake.
Klabona Keepers offered no end date on their blockade, but state on their website: “To those who come without respect, we must warn you: you will find us relentless and fierce in defending the Tahltan Sacred Headwaters.”
Kristian Secher is completing a practicum with The Tyee with a focus on marine science and policy issues. Find his previous Tyee stories here.

Klabona Keepers (Website) from the Tahltan Nation
Tl’abāne Łani Dahthāke Nohōdih:
‘We say real strongly regarding Klappan’ or ‘Klappan Declaration’
From the Klappan (Tl’abāne) Road Blockade; Sept 16, 2005
We, the people of the Stikine and Tahltan ancestry have been forced by the actions of others into denying access toTl’abāne to those who would this place. Tl’abāne is the Sacred Headwaters of the Stikine, Skeena and the Nass rivers. The land, water, animals and plants of these Sacred Headwaters have nourished us for untold centuries, and still do. We have lived and died here for millennia, and like our ancestors, here too we will die. What has been proposed for this place by the despoilers would enrich a few, for a short time, but would leave us dispossessed of the very thing which defines us as a distinct people.
To those who would despoil our homeland, we say this: we will never dishonor those who have gone before us, and whose bones are now part of the earth beneath our feet. Long ago our people established laws to protect the land and waters and the animals and plants that live among us. We have a solemn duty and responsibility to those who came before and those to follow to protect this place. It is a Sacred Trust given to us, and which no one can deny. Our title to these lands, and our responsibilities to it, remain unextinguished, and in full force and effect under our laws and customs.
This place can remain a wonder and inspiration for all, for all time, if only we respect its beauty and richness. We are not opposed to economic development on our homeland and deeply desire economic justice and opportunity for all people, and especially our children. There are places within our territories we are willing to share with those who come to us in respect, those who recognize our place on this land, and those who understand we have traditions and laws we are obliged to honor.
To those who come without respect, we must warn you: you will find us relentless and fierce in defending the Tl’ab


 

FACTSHEET

For Immediate Release                                                                      Ministry of Energy and Mines

2014MEM0021-001145                                                                              Ministry of Environment

August 7, 2014

Thursday, Aug. 7 – Mount Polley tailings pond situation update

WILLIAMS LAKE – Government and Cariboo Regional District officials continue to work together to address the breach at the Mount Polley tailings pond, to test the local drinking water to determine if it is safe for locals to drink or bathe in, and to help ensure the safety and well- being of local residents.

This factsheet will be updated daily with the latest information available.

New today:

1.    Imperial Mines met the Aug. 6 deadline requirements of the pollution abatement order

to submit an Action Plan for the Preliminary Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and initiate environmental monitoring yesterday. Imperial Metals has provided, and will be initiating a plan to stop the flow from the Tailings Impoundment breach as required by item 1 of the PAO.

2.    Save-On-Foods, in conjunction with the Canadian Red Cross, has donated 18,000, 500ml bottles of water and 1,440, four-litre bottles of water. This morning, these bottles were distributed to Likely residents in need.

3.    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.

4.    Emergency Management BC has integrated staff with the Cariboo Regional District

Emergency Operations Centre to support response and recovery. Government is providing resource specialists in the Likely area to support the Emergency Operations
Centre in Williams Lake. This team is co-ordinating site-level Provincial response and recovery activities in co-operation with Imperial Metals, the party responsible for site
management.

5.    Fisheries and Oceans Canada has issued a precautionary closure on a portion of the Chinook salmon fishery until sample results have come in. See the notice here:

http://www-ops2.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fns-sap/index-eng.cfm?
pg=view_notice&DOC_ID=161980&ID=all

6.    Good progress is being made by West Fraser to boom the debris in Quesnel Lake and prevent it from reaching the bridge. The most recent reports suggest that approximately 80% of it is contained in Mitchell Bay and will be forwarded to Fraser Mills haul-out site. This means that the Likely Bridge is no longer considered at-risk.

7.    The Ministry of Transportation has two excavators stationed at the Likely Bridge to respond should this situation change and any significant accumulations of debris   threaten the bridge.

8.    Ministry of Energy and Mines inspectors continue their investigation and are continuing with the interview process. Two additional investigators are on-site today to carry forward with interviews of mine staff and a review of all applicable documentation on the mine site.

Ministry of Environment conservation officers are independently investigating the breach.

Conservation officers are Special Provincial Constables under the Police Act with a wide suite of powers associated with that designation. Although part of government, the Conservation Officer Service (COS) is unfettered in its investigations as the COS investigates and forwards recommendations for charges when warranted directly to provincial crown counsel.

Current situation:

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • The state of local emergency (SOLE) remains in place, giving the CRD exceptional powers in the interest of ensuring public safety, allowing it to better enable an equitable distribution of potable water to the residents of Likely.
  • The cause of the breach is still unknown at this time. Ministry of Environment conservation officers are investigating the breach.
  • Ministry of Energy and Mines mine inspectors are also investigating, two of whom have been monitoring the site by helicopter.
  • Tug boats continue to work in the area to boom the debris in the water and excavators are on standby in the event they are needed as well. Significant progress has been made. • In the meantime, the CRD emergency operations centre, in consultation with Interior

      Health, has issued a drinking water advisory not to drink, bathe or feed livestock drawn from the following waterways: Quesnel Lake, Polley Lake, Hazeltine Creek and Cariboo Creek. The entire Quesnel River system right up to the Fraser River is under a do-not-drink advisory. **Note: boiling will not help**

  • There have been no reports of injuries or people getting sick from drinking water. There have been no reports of property damage.
  • The cost of the cleanup of the breach is the responsibility of Imperial Metals, and is not a cost borne by B.C. taxpayers.

Pollution abatement order:

On Aug. 6, the Ministry of Environment issued a Pollution Abatement Order to Mount Polley Mining Corp. This order requires immediate action to stop the further release of mine tailings into nearby waterways and to submit environmental impact assessments and clean-up action plans to the ministry.

It also required the company to submit a written summary of actions taken to stop the release of mine tailings and to undertake a preliminary environmental impact assessment and submit an action plan. This has now been done.

The company must also submit a detailed action plan by Aug. 15, and it is required to report weekly on the implementation of action plan measures.

Drinking water advisory:

The advisory does not apply to people in Williams Lake, Quesnel or other towns along the Fraser River. Fishing by First Nations along the Fraser is also not affected.

The Cariboo Regional District has organized delivery of water to Likely because the main supplier of bottled water in the area, a small grocery store, could not keep up with the demand. This work will be supplemented with the donation today from Save-On-Foods. Search and rescue, Save-On-Foods employees and Red Cross volunteers are all supporting water delivery efforts.

The Ministry of Environment will provide water-sampling results to Interior Health officials and the Cariboo Regional District Emergency Operations Centre as they become available. The ministry will continue to conduct water-sampling tests daily to determine the impacts on water quality and is also working with Imperial Metals to develop both short-term and long-term plans for further water-quality testing.

The ministry intends to post results on its website, including a map of the sampling locations.

Due to the influx of tourists in to the area over the long weekend, the number of people affected is unconfirmed but the CRD estimates it could range up to 300.

Regional infrastructure and waterways:

Waterways affected by this event include Quesnel Lake, Polley Lake, Hazeltine Creek and Cariboo Creek.

Additionally the Horsefly Likely Forest Service (Ditch Road) has been washed out at Hazeltine Creek and the Gavin Lake Forest Service Road was washed out closer to the dam breach area. The Likely Bridge is not affected at this time.

The mine’s management, in consultation with Geotech consultants and government geotechnical engineers, is reviewing the situation at Polley Lake and at the tailings pond. They continue to consider alternatives to lower the water level in Polley Lake. These may include pumping the water into a historic empty pit on the site or pumping or diverting the water to the Hazeltine Creek.

As well, they are reviewing a plan to build a berm to prevent further tailings from flowing into Hazeltine Creek.

Previous site inspections:

The Mount Polley mine has a valid Mines Act permit and the company has been generally compliant with the Health, Safety and Reclamation Code and their Mines Act permit conditions.

The Ministry of Energy and Mines conducted a geotechnical inspection at the mine in September 2013, which resulted in no inspection orders related to the tailings facility.

Following reports of an overtopping of the tailings dam, Ministry of Energy and Mines officials investigated an incident on May 24, 2014 and determined this was not a breach. It was an incident of when the height of the water within tailings pond was above the permitted requirements. This occurred in a different area of the facility than the Aug. 4 dam failure.

At the time of the May incident, the distance between the water elevation and the crest of the dam (freeboard) was less than one meter. The water returned to authorized levels and freeboard was approximately 2.4 meters when last measured on Aug. 3. Mine records show that the operation was carrying out visual dam inspections and measuring freeboard at an acceptable frequency.

Here is a list of recent advisories to Mount Polley from the Ministry of Environment, only one of which was related to height of the tailings pond. The Ministry of Environment is responsible to ensure no unauthorized effluent discharge from the tailings pond structure:

  • May 24, 2014: The ministry issued an advisory to Mount Polley Mining Corporation for exceedance of the height of effluent within the tailings impoundment. The effluent level returned to authorized levels commencing June 30, 2014.
  • April 18, 2014: The ministry issued an advisory to Mount Polley Mining Corporation for bypass of authorized treatment works. The site experienced high flows due to spring freshet which caused the pump system to become blocked and resulted in an overflow of effluent to the long ditch. Flow did not reach the creek and was directed into Till Borrow Pit.
  • January and April 2012: The ministry issued an advisory to Mount Polley Mining

Corporation for not submitting monitoring data for one of the groundwater monitoring wells.

  • Aug. 30, 2012: The ministry issued a warning to Mount Polley Mining Corporation for failure to report exceedance of the height of effluent for the perimeter pond. This perimeter pond overflowed, releasing approximately 150 cubic metres of effluent over 13 hours to ground.

Additional background:

Early in the morning of Aug. 4 the tailings pond dam at the Mount Polley Mine site breached and released an estimated 10 million cubic metres of water and 4.5 million cubic metres of fine sand into Polley Lake.  Hazeltine Creek flows out of Polley Lake and the flow of contaminated water continued into Quesnel Lake.

Preliminary monitoring data provided by the mine did not show any changes in the internal water pressure in the dam before the breach. The last readings were taken on Aug. 2, 2014. The investigation will evaluate all monitoring data before the breach.

The Mount Polley Mine is owned by Imperial Metals and is approximately 30 km from the community of Likely.

The tailing pond at Mount Polley Mine is four km by four km. This is a large breach and extremely rare.

Officials with the Ministry of Energy and Mines do not recall anything of this magnitude in at least the last 40 years.

For more information:

A public information line has been set up by the CRD: 250 398-5581

Updates will be posted to the Cariboo Regional District’s emergency operations Facebook page,
here: http://www.facebook.com/CRDemergencyoperations or on the CRD website at:
http://www.cariboord.ca/

For a collection of documents from government and partners surrounding the Mount Polley
breach, visit:http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/eemp/incidents/2014/mount-polley.htm

To view yesterday’s Situation Update, visit: http://www2.news.gov.bc.ca/news_releases_2013-
2017/2014MEM0020-001140.htm

Media Contacts:

Jake Jacobs
Media Relations
Ministry of Energy and Mines and Responsible for Core Review
250 952-0628

Cariboo Regional District Communications

250 305-8151
sburich@cariboord.ca


Ceremony Marks Beginning of Healing Journey at Mount Polley Mine Site

Secwepemc te Qelmucw Territory– The First Nations Health Council (FNHC) and the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) are deeply concerned about the environmental and human health effects of the Mount Polley Mine disaster. The spill coincides with the Fraser River sockeye run and has created concern about the safety of food fish.

“It’s difficult to express the depth of our connection to these lands, and the pain and sorrow that have resulted from this man- made disaster. We don’t separate human health from our relatives, the water and the animals. We are connected as “One”. Yesterday’s ceremony marks our sacred duty to speak for those that cannot speak for themselves.” Kukpi7 Wayne Christian, First Nations Health Council.

A sacred ceremony held yesterday at the site of the spill marked the beginning of the healing journey.

Read the news release

Up to date technical and public health information from the FNHA on the Mount Polley Mine Event can be found here:

Mount Polley Mine Event Communique and FAQ (August 7th, 2014)
Mount Polley Mine Event Communique and FAQ (August 6th, 2014)


From the office of Coralee Oaks MLA

Water Quality Update
Date:August 07,2014

Re:Quesnel Lake Water Quality of August 7, 2014

Ministry of Environment Staff collected water quality samples at several locations in Quesnel Lake
on a daily basis since August 4, 2014,the day of the Mt. Polley Tailings Dam Breach to determine
potential impacts on drinking water quality and aquatic life.

The Parameters analysed so far include pH,conductivity, turbidity,total suspended solids,total
dissolved solids,Hardness alkalinity total and dissolved metals,and E.coli.  While
concentrations of most of these parameters could be influenced by the tailings discharge,E.coli
bacteria are not a typical contaminant in tailings and results are thus likely not due to the
tailings discharge.

Samples collected near the Town Site of Likely and on the North Shore of Quesnel Lake indicate that
none of the analysed chemical and physical contaminant concentrations  exceeded BC or Health Canada
Drinking Water Guidelines. E.coli concentrations were below or just above the guideline at
typical concentrations for lakes in BC and well below the disinfection and partial treatment
guidelines.  The detected value of 1 E.coli / 1OOmL is not likely a result of the tailings discharge.
Contaminant concentrations at the above sites were well below aquatic life guidelines at all sites.

However,the concentrations for Cadmium and Zinc could not be compared to guidelines.since the lab
analysis detection limit was higher than the guideline and the detection limit for Chromium was at
the guideline.

Based on the above impact to aquatic life and fish is not expected.

Fish tissue samples have not yet been collected,however,tissue sampling is planned in the near
future.Generally bio-accumulation of contaminants in fish muscle tissue occurs over a longer
exposure time than a few days.

Gabriele Matscha, RPBio.,
Impact Assessment Section Head -Mining
Environmental Protection Division – Ministry of Environment


NORTHERN SECWEPEMC te QELMUCW
MEDIA RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday August 6, 2014

Government and Company must end the spin doctoring and provide answers.

WILLIAMS LAKE – The Williams Lake and Xat’sull (Soda Creek) Indian Bands are demanding answers after being ignored by the government and Imperial Metals since the devastating environmental Mount Polley tailing pond catastrophe occurred on the their Northern Secwepemc te Qelmucw Traditional Territory in the early hours of Monday morning.

In a joint statement, Williams Lake Chief Ann Louie and Xat’sull Chief Bev Sellars stated: “Our communities are filled with sorrow, frustration and anger as they are left wondering just what poisons are in the water, and what is being done to address this disaster. Three days after the disaster, finally we have had direct discussion with the provincial government. This time lapse during a time of crisis is unacceptable.”

“We are the stewards of the land within our territory and bear a major brunt of the huge environmental and human impacts of this disaster. It is totally unacceptable that we should be ignored as we desperately try to understand the scope and impact of this tragedy, and we demand answers now.

“Monday’s devastating tailings pond breach is something that both our First Nations have lived in fear of for many years. We have raised repeated concerns about the safety and security of this mine, but they were ignored. Now we are being ignored again. Enough is enough.”

Chief Louie added: “This is a critical spawning time for salmon in the Quesnel and Fraser Rivers and tributaries and Quesnel Lake, and we are demanding the government and company provide us with immediate information on the impacts of this disaster on our salmon and other fish stocks and wildlife – there is no time to waste.

“Or are they saying they do not monitor the tailing pond and have no idea what toxins are in it, and have never had a plan for responding to a breach?’

Chief Sellars said: “Once again it is First Nations that are left to deal with the destruction caused by a greed for dollars and the rush to allow companies to open mines regardless of the risks and the warnings, and once again, we are the last to be consulted or informed and we will be the ones left trying to pick up the pieces.”

Chief Louie noted that only through the persistence of Williams Lake Indian Band Councilor Willie Sellars, was contact made with Mount Polley’s Don Parsons, Chief Operating Officer, of Imperial Metals Corporation. Agreements signed promising to keep the two Bands informed have clearly not been kept.  As part of our agreements, we require immediate information regarding the threats to our traditional territory and way of life because as traditional stewards of the land we will be an integral part of the assessment and monitoring of the environmental damage.

For more information, please contact:
Chief Ann Louie: Office: (250) 296-3507 or Cell: (250) 267-2688
Chief Bev Sellars: Office: (250) 989 2355 (ext. 126) or Cell: (250) 267 6924

http://www.williamslakeband.ca/
http://www.xatsull.com/


Links to other Articles involving Chief Ann Louie and Chief Bev Sellars regarding Mount Polley Mine Tailings Pond Breach

http://www.vancouverobserver.com/news/calls-about-mount-polley-tailings-breach-allegedly-went-unanswered-hours

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/first-nations-fear-the-worst-for-bcs-salmon-population/article19945332/

http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/08/05/mount-polley-mines-tailings-pond-breach-of-five-million-cubic-metres-of-contaminated-waste-called-massive-environmental-disaster/

http://www.firstperspective.ca/index.php/news/3789-first-nations-urgent-calls-about-mount-polley-tailings-allegedly-went-unanswered-for-hours

http://www.250news.com/blog/view/32870/1/tailings+breach+leaves+first+nations+leader+looking+for+answers

https://www.facebook.com/UBCIC/posts/817197934977452

http://www.bnn.ca/News/2014/8/5/Consultant-was-denied-structure-study-on-burst-BC-tailings-pond.aspx


7 August 2014

FISHERIES NOTICE TO THE NStQ

Soda Creek Chief Bev Sellars is pleased to announce the Musqueam Band is working with the NStQ to provide our community members with salmon from the mouth of the Fraser River to ensure our fisheries’ needs are met following the Mt. Polley disaster.
Information on the distribution of fish will be provided once plans are finalized.

For more information please contact:
Chief Bev Sellars (250) 989-2323.


 ​​​​The First Nations Health Authority is supporting the human health concerns of First Nations affected by the Mount Polley Mine tailings pond spill. On Monday August 4 at 1:10 a.m. the tailings dam was breached, releasing water/tailings and ground rock. Water and debris flowed into Polley Lake, then into Hazeltine Creek and then to Quesnel Lake. Mount Polley mine is an open-pit gold/copper mine located 8km southwest of Likely and 56 km Northeast of Williams Lake BC.  The MPM is located within the northern part of the Secwepemc te Qelmucw (NStQ) traditional territory and is within the traditional territories of T’exelc Williams Lake Indian Band and the Xat’sull Soda Creek First Nations. Cariboo Regional District is the lead agency in responding to the emergency.

Based on concerns of impacts to drinking water supplies, the Cariboo Regional District issued a Do Not Use advisory for the immediate area of the spill, for both drinking and recreational use. At this time the First Nations drinking water systems are not in the vicinity of the spill area and therefore are not at risk of contamination.

The Ministry of Environment conducted tests on the water from the tailings pond and in Quesnel Lake on Monday August 4th. Direct observation and on-site testing within Quesnel Lake showed that field measurements were within normal limits, and there was no observable fish kill. Turbidity was elevated which is to be expected. Results from chemical analysis are anticipated on Thursday August 7th.​

The results of chemical testing will inform how follow-up testing is conducted to verify immediate and long-term health impacts and what chemicals need to be monitored on an ongoing basis.  FNHA will work in partnership with Nations in the affected areas to support independent water testing.

The spill coincides with the Fraser River sockeye run and has created concern about the safety of food fish.

The FNHA will be liaising with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and BC Ministry of Environment to understand both the short and long term potential effects on fish stocks. At this time, fish advisories have been issued for portions of the Cariboo and Quenel rivers.

FNHA recognizes that there is an important connection between the environmental impacts of this incident and the spiritual, emotional and mental well-being of community members.

Secwepemc First Nations will be gathering at the Likely Bridge tomorrow to conduct a ceremony to recognize the spiritual impact of the incident. Nation members and all members of the public are welcome.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe to fish?

DFO has issued a fishing ban in portions of the Cariboo and Quenel rivers.  At this time, no fish advisories have been issued for the Fraser River. FNHA is verifying with DFO and BC Ministry of Environment if any short-term or long-term impacts are expected.

What about effects on plants?

Vegetation along Hazeltine Creek into Quesnel Lake and Polley Lake may be impacted as this was the location of most of the turbulence which may have splashed tailings onto surrounding plant life.  These areas should be avoided for plant collection.

How quickly is the effluent moving through the lake and river systems?

FNHA is in contact with BC Ministry of Environment to obtain information on the movement of the effluent within the Fraser River system. We will provide information as it becomes available. It is important to note that the Fraser River provides significant dilution, therefore greatest levels and impact are in the area closest to the spill site.

Is the water safe on our skin?

Cariboo Regional District issued a Do Not Use advisory which includes contact with skin, however this applies to areas only in the direct vicinity of the spill and include: Quesnel Lake, Polley Lake, Hazeltine Creek and Cariboo Creek.

Where did the Ministry of Environment conduct its testing?

MOE reports that sites within the direct area of the spill were tested, including Quesnel Lake. Additional testing will be done at other sites when it is safe to do so.

​Will the FNHA carry out its own water or fish testing?

FNHA is awaiting information on the tailings pond chemical content and the results of initial MO​E lab results to inform monitoring programs. The results of chemical testing will inform how follow-up testing is conducted to verify immediate and long-term health impacts and what chemicals need to be monitored on an ongoing basis.  FNHA will work in partnership with Nations in the affected areas to support independent water testing.

​Download this communiqué in PDF form here (PDF 124 KB)

Additional information

“Government and Cariboo Regional District officials continue to work together to address the breach at the Mount Polley tailings pond, to test the local drinking water to determine if it is safe for locals to drink or bathe in, and to help ensure the safety and wellbeing of local residents.

FN0753-RECREATIONAL – Salmon – Region 5A – Quesnel and Cariboo Rivers – Salmon Fishery Closure

Due to the breach in a mine tailings dam near Likely, BC, effective immediately 
there is no fishing for salmon in the following waters:

-Cariboo River from the confluence of the Quesnel River to the confluence of 
Seller Creek; and

-Quesnel River downstream of Poquette Creek.

VO# 2014-355 

Notes:

Barbless hooks are required when fishing for salmon in tidal and non-tidal 
waters of British Columbia.  

Sport anglers are encouraged to participate in the Salmon Sport Head Recovery 
program by labelling and submitting heads from adipose fin-clipped chinook and 
coho salmon.  Recovery of coded-wire tags provides critical information for 
coast-wide stock assessment.  Contact the Salmon Sport Head Recovery Program 
toll free at (866) 483-9994 for further information.

Did you witness suspicious fishing activity or a violation?  If so, please call 
the Fisheries and Ocean Canada 24-hour toll free Observe, Record, Report line 
at (800) 465-4336.

For the 24 hour recorded opening and closure line, call toll free at 
1-(866) 431-FISH (3474).

FOR MORE INFORMATION:  
Linda Stevens, DFO Williams Lake Tel: (250) 305-4004

Fisheries & Oceans Operations Center - FN0753

Sent August 5, 2014 at 1618


FACTSHEET For Immediate Release                                                                      Ministry of Energy and Mines
2014MEM0020-001140                                                                              Ministry of Environment

August 6, 2014

Mount Polley tailings pond situation update

WILLIAMS LAKE – Government and Cariboo Regional District officials continue to work together to address the breach at the Mount Polley tailings pond, to test the local drinking water to determine if it is safe for locals to drink or bathe in, and to help ensure the safety and well-
being of local residents.

This factsheet will be updated daily with the latest information available.

New today:

1.    The Ministry of Environment has issued a Pollution Abatement Order to Mount Polley

Mining Corp. This order requires immediate action to stop the further release of mine tailings into nearby waterways and to submit environmental impact assessments and clean-up action plans to the ministry.

It also requires the company to submit a written summary of actions taken to stop the release of mine tailings and to undertake preliminary environmental impact assessment and submit an action plan by today. The company must also submit a detailed action plan by Aug 15, and it is required to report weekly on the implementation of action plan measures.

1.    The Cariboo Regional District (CRD) declared a state of local emergency (SOLE) allowing it

the exceptional powers to suspend certain rights and freedoms in the interest of

ensuring public safety. In this case, the CRD required the ability to gain access to private
property in order to provide heavy equipment support to the West Fraser Mills forest
company that is deploying tub boats for collection/control of woody debris from Lake
Quesnel.

Additionally, the declaration allows the CRD better enable a fair distribution of potable water to the residents of Likely.

1.    Tug boats have been working in the area to boom the debris in the water and excavators are on standby in the event they are needed as well. Significant progress has been made.

2. Polley Lake: the mine’s management, in consultation with Geotech consultants and government geotechnical engineers, are reviewing alternatives to lower the water level in Polley Lake These may include pumping the water into a historic empty pit on the site or pumping or diverting the water to the Hazeltine Creek.

3. Tailings Pond: the mine’s management in consultation with Geotech consultants andgovernment experts are reviewing a plan to build a berm to prevent further tailings fromflowing into Hazeltine Creek.

4. Ministry of Energy and Mines inspectors continue their investigation. They have nowbegun the interview process in conjunction with the Conservation Service. This will involve interviewing mine staff and a review of all applicable documentation on the mine site.5.    Quesnel Lake & Likely Bridge: Good progress is being made by West Fraser to boom the debris in Quesnel Lake and prevent it from reaching the bridge. The Ministry of Transportation has two excavators stationed at the Likely Bridge to respond should any significant accumulations of debris threaten the bridge. At this point, there is no
imminent threat to the structure.Current situation:

  • 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.

  • A small amount of tailings backed into the mouth 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.
  • The cause of the breach is still unknown at this time. Ministry of Environment conservation officers are investigating the breach along with Ministry of Energy and Mines mine inspectors, two of whom have been monitoring the site by helicopter.
  • Water sampling took place the evening of Aug. 4 and samples were sent for testing early yesterday morning. Drinking water testing continues and results are expected tomorrow or Friday morning at the latest. Until that point, the environmental impact of the contaminated water on the local watershed remains unknown.
  • In the meantime, the CRD has issued a water ban advisory not to drink, bath or feed livestock drawn from the following waterways: Quesnel Lake, Polley Lake, Hazeltine Creek and Cariboo Creek. The entire Quesnel River system right up to the Fraser River is under a do not drink advisory. **Note: boiling will not help**
  • There have been no reports of injuries or people getting sick from drinking water. There have been no reports of property damage.
  • The cost of the cleanup of the breach is the responsibility of Imperial Metals, and is not a cost borne by B.C. taxpayers.

Water Ban:

The ban does not apply to people in Williams Lake, Quesnel or other towns along the Fraser River. Fishing by First Nations along the Fraser is also not affected.

Initially, it was believed the small town of Likely was not directly affected because it was unclear how many people in the town used water from Quesnel Lake. Since then, the Cariboo Regional District has decided to start delivering water to Likely because the main supplier of bottled water in the area, a small grocery store, could not keep up with the demand.

Search-and-rescue volunteers continue going door to door to recommend evacuation from park sites and notify water users of the water ban. They are also supporting water delivery efforts.

Due to the influx of tourists in to the area over the long weekend, the numbers of people affected is unconfirmed but the CRD estimates it could range up to 300.

Regional infrastructure and waterways:

Waterways affected by this event include Quesnel Lake, Polley Lake, Hazeltine Creek and Cariboo Creek.

Additionally the Horsefly Likely Forest Service (Ditch Road) has been washed out at Hazeltine Creek and the Gavin Lake Forest Service Road was washed out closer to the dam breach area. The Likely Bridge is not affected at this time.

Previous site inspections:

Following reports of a previous breach at the mine, Ministry of Energy and Mines officials

investigated an incident on May 24, 2014, and determined this was not a breach. It was a oneday period where the height of the effluent within tailings pond was above regulation.

To date, Imperial Metals has been compliant with respect to recent orders regarding dam safety inspections. The last inspection by government mining officials took place in September 2013.

Here is a list of recent advisories to Mount Polley from the Ministry of Environment, only one of which was related to height of the tailings pond. The Ministry of Environment is responsible to ensure no unauthorized effluent discharge from the tailings pond structure:

  • May 24, 2014: The ministry issued an advisory to Mount Polley Mining Corporation for
    exceedance of the height of effluent within the tailings impoundment. The effluent level
    returned to authorized levels commencing June 30, 2014.
  • April 18, 2014: The ministry issued an advisory to Mount Polley Mining Corporation for
    bypass of authorized treatment works. The site experienced high flows due to spring
    freshet which caused the pump system to become blocked and resulted in an overflow of
    effluent to the long ditch. Flow did not reach the creek and was directed into Till Borrow
    Pit.
  • January and April 2012: The ministry issued an advisory to Mount Polley Mining Corporation for not submitting monitoring data for one of the groundwater monitoring wells.
  • Aug. 30, 2012: The ministry issued a warning to Mount Polley Mining Corporation for failure to report exceedence of the height of effluent for the perimeter pond. This perimeter pond overflowed, releasing approximately 150 cubic metres of effluent over13 hours to ground.

Additional background:

Early in the morning of Aug. 4, the tailings pond dam at the Mount Polley Mine site breached and released an estimated 10 million cubic metres of water and 4.5 million cubic metres of fine sand into Polley Lake. Hazletine Creek flows out of Polley Lake and the flow of contaminated water continued into Quesnel Lake.  The Mount Polley Mine is owned by Imperial Metals and is approximately 30 kilometres from the community of Likely.  The tailing pond at Mount Polley Mine is 4 kms by 4 kms. This is a large breach and extremely rare.

Officials with the Ministry of Energy and Mines do not recall anything of this magnitude in at least the last 40 years.

Media Contacts:

Jake Jacobs
Media Relations
Ministry of Energy and Mines and Responsible for Core Review
250 952-0628

Cariboo Regional District Communications

250 305-8151
sburich@cariboord.ca


Quesnel Lake and River spill – Lead Federal AgencyHello all, I have been fielding a number of calls today with regards to the Mount Polley tailing pond. I’m afraid I have very little additional information from that being reported in the Media.

All I can say at this time is that:

  • The BC Ministry of the Environment is leading the response and initial investigation into this incident.
  • Environment Canada is the lead federal agency on accidents of this nature.
  • The possible impacts on the Fraser River sockeye salmon as a result of tailings deposit into Quesnel Lake are not known at this time.

The Ministry of the Environment is undertaking testing on the water quality in Quesnel Lake. It will take a few days to get the results of the testing and I believe testing will continue for some time.

I assume the results of this testing will be made available on a future date.

If I become aware of any further information and/or discover sources of information I will let you know.

Thank you,

Linda Stevens

Resource Manager | Gestionnaire de ressources
Fisheries and Oceans Canada | Peches et Oceans Canada

280C Third Avenue North, Williams Lake, BC V2G 4J2 |
280C Rue Troiseme Nord, Lac Williams, C-B. V2G 4J2

Email: Linda.Stevens@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Telephone | Telephone 250-305-4004
Facsimile | Telecopieur 250-305-3017
Government of Canada | Gouvernement du Canada



First Nations Summit
STATEMENT

For Immediate Release August 5, 2014

First Nations Summit statement regarding the Mount Polley Mine Tailings Pond Breach

Coast Salish Territory/Vancouver – The First Nations Summit is deeply concerned about the breach of the Mount Polly Mine tailings pond and the devastating environmental impacts the breach will cause in the area.

This is the type of environmental disaster First Nations have been deeply concerned about. There will undoubtedly be vast negative effects on the water quality in the surrounding area which will have adverse impacts to the migration routes and habitat for salmon and other fish, as well as wildlife habitat and plant life in the affected area. First Nations’ and non-First Nations alike are asking questions about how this breach occurred, especially with media reports indicating Imperial Metals Corp. was long aware of potential problems which could lead to a potential tailings pond breach.

First Nations along the Fraser River are also highly concerned about the risk of the contaminated waste water reaching the Fraser River salmon habitat which could jeopardize this very valuable resource which First Nations depend on as an important food and ceremonial resource.

The Mount Polley tailings pond breach is unquestionably a serious warning to the mining industry as well as communities throughout British Columbia where, according to the Mining Association of BC, some 30 new mines are being proposed over the next 10 years.

The provincial government must take immediate action to hold the company financially and operationally accountable for the immediate clean-up and necessary remediation.

The First Nations Summit speaks on behalf of First Nations involved in treaty negotiations in British Columbia. The Summit is also a NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

Further background information on the Summit may be found at www.fns.bc.ca.

For Further Information:

Colin Braker, First Nations Summit
Office: 604.926.9903/Cell: 604.328-4094


 

Mount Polley Mine Tailings Pond Breach, Likely, August 4, 2014

http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/eemp/incidents/2014/mount-polley.htm

On August 4, 2014, a tailings pond breach occurred at Mount Polley Mine in south-central BC, near the town of Likely. The breach released approximately 10 million cubic meters of effluent into Polley Lake and Quesnel Lake. The Ministry of Environment issued a Pollution Abatement Order on August 5th to the Mount Polley Mine Corporation and will oversee implementation of the responsible party’s action plan to ensure the information meets the ministry’s needs for assessing potential environmental impacts and monitoring ecosystem recovery.

» Inset [PDF 341KB]
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