News

Mine dam inspections ordered across B.C.

Satellite image taken the day after Mount Polley mine tailings breach shows drained tailings dam and spill that backed into Polley Lake and down Hazeltine Creek to Quesnel Lake.  - NASA Earth Observatory
Satellite image taken the day after Mount Polley mine tailings breach shows drained tailings dam and spill that backed into Polley Lake and down Hazeltine Creek to Quesnel Lake.
— image credit: NASA Earth Observatory

Independent engineering inspections have been ordered for Mount Polley mine near Williams Lake and nearly 100 other mine tailings ponds with permits across the province, with reports to be complete by the end of January.

Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett announced the dual reviews Monday. The Mount Polley investigation is to be complete by Jan. 31 and will be done concurrently with the B.C. government's legally required probes by B.C.'s chief inspector of mines and the environment ministry, which looks at the longer-term effects of the Aug. 4 tailings spill.

Bennett said costs will be covered by Imperial Metals for Mount Polley and by all operators of mines with permits to operate nearly 100 tailings facilities in B.C.

"Certainly in the last 40 years there's no evidence of a tailings dam breach in British Columbia, but rare or not, it happened, and so the public's confidence I think is shaken" Bennett said at a news conference in Vancouver. "That's why we need to get these three experts involved as quickly as we're getting them involved."

The Mount Polley panel includes UBC mine engineering professor Dirk Van Zyl, U.S. consulting engineer Steven Vick, whose earlier investigations included the 2005 New Orleans levee breach that followed Hurricane Katrina, and Norbert Morgenstern, an Alberta civil engineering professor who has worked on 140 mine projects.

Bennett said the panel was chosen with approval of the Williams Lake and Soda Creek Indian Bands, and their report will be made available to the band councils at the same time as government.

Independent inspections of other mine tailings ponds must be completed Dec. 1, a change from the March 31 deadline for inspections that are required annually. Bennett said these inspections will each have to be reviewed by an independent geotechnical engineering firm.

 

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

You might like ...

Set to serve another four years
 
New rules coming for local election spending
 
School board launching new budget process with challenges ahead
Amrik Virk advised Kwantlen on secret executive bonus
 
Flu vaccine less effective against mutant strain
 
McAllister’s work wows at the Tidemark
TransLink may loosen rules for dogs on transit
 
Daycare dilemma for Penticton parents
 
Child poverty report card highlights needs of Penticton food bank and more

Community Events, November 2014

Add an Event


Read the latest eEdition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Nov 13 edition online now. Browse the archives.