Top News

Monday, August 18, 2014 - 16:53 • Carol Linnitt
Bev Sellers

The Soda Creek First Nation, traditionally called the Xatśūll First Nation, is going to tap into band savings for a community centre to pay for independent scientists to study the local environment in the wake of the Mount Polley mine spill that sent billions of litres of mining waste in Hazeltine Creek and Quesnel Lake.

Bev Sellers, chief of the Soda Creek said ever since the spill occurred it has been difficult to find reliable sources of information.

The reports coming out from mining and the government say everything is fine, but we don’t really believe that,” she said in an interview in Vancouver. “A disaster such as this – there are going to be long term effects.”

Major concerns for her nation have to do with the long-term effects of the spill on Quesnel Lake, which is in the traditional territory of the Soda Creek First Nation and the Williams Lake Indian Band.

Monday, August 18, 2014 - 11:48 • Albrecht Berg
Tahltan Roadblock, Red Chris Mine

Imperial Metals is experiencing troubled times.

After the catastrophic breach of a toxic tailings pond at its Mount Polley mine on August 4th, British Columbians across the province have called into question the safety of the company’s other mega mine projects.

The Red Chris mine, located in B.C.’s northwestern corner is now under intense scrutiny by protestors from the Tahltan Nation who are blocking access to the company’s site, saying they won’t leave until independent reviewers address mine safety concerns.

On August 8th, the Klabona Keepers, headed by a group of mostly women elders, set up two camps, blocking each of the two access roads to the mine. Trucks are parked across the roads and makeshift wooden barricades have been erected to keep company vehicles from entering.

Friday, August 15, 2014 - 11:42 • Judith Lavoie
Lake Fanning, algae bloom, mink farms

When Debbie and Allen Hall bought waterfront property on Lake Fanning in Nova Scotia, they looked forward to a relaxing semi-retirement with their six grandchildren swimming and playing in the lake.

But, a decade later, the Yarmouth-area lake is unusable because of scummy blue-green algae blooms, most likely caused by manure run-off from nearby mink farms. The Halls considered moving and taking a financial blow, but have now resorted to building a swimming pool in an effort to reclaim a fraction of the lifestyle they dreamt about.

We used to think of the classic cliché of fun at the lake, running and jumping off the dock. Now there are massive blooms from late May until November and when they die off, the bacterial decomposition uses up all the oxygen and we end up with huge dead zones,” said Debbie Hall.

Nova Scotia lakes and rivers have been polluted by excess nutrients and phosphorus to the point that no one knows when — or if — they will recover and studies point the finger at fur farms.

There are now 150 mink farms in Nova Scotia and the industry generated $140 million last year with most of the pelts going to Russia, China and South Korea.

Thursday, August 14, 2014 - 15:34 • Carol Linnitt
mount polley mine tailings pond breach in BC

It has been 10 days since the tailings pond holding billions of litres of mining waste breached at the Mount Polley mine near Likely, B.C. sending arsenic and mercury-laced water and slurry into the Hazeltine Creek which feeds Quesnel Lake, a major source of drinking water and home to one quarter of the province’s sockeye salmon.

Yet local residents still have no idea when clean up of the spill site might begin.

On a recent trip to the spill site, DeSmog Canada learned no cleanup crews are currently working on removing the tremendous amount of mining waste clogging up what used to be the Hazeltine Creek and spreading out into Quesnel Lake.

David Karn, media relations with the ministry of environment, was unable to provide information or comment on an expected cleanup date or who would be performing the cleanup, industry or government.

Imperial Metals, also reached out to for comment, was unable to respond by the time of publication.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014 - 16:37 • Carol Linnitt
Coralee Oaks and Donna Bernett, Mount Polley mine, tailings pond breach, drinking water ban

There were audible scoffs from the crowd Tuesday as Cariboo MLAs told residents in Likely, B.C. that the drinking water ban has been lifted for areas near the Mount Polley mine where a tailings pond breached Monday, August 4th sending billions of litres of mining wastewater and solid materials into Hazeltine Creek and Quesnel Lake.

The drinking ban remains in effect for Mount Polley, Hazeltine Creek and an area 100 metres immediately surrounding the visible sediment plume at the mouth of the Hazeltine Creek where debris and sludge from the spill poured into Quesnel Lake, the primary source of drinking water for local residents.

At a small community press conference on the edge of the Quesnel River in Likely, B.C. Donna Barnett, MLA for the Cariboo-Chilcotin and parliamentary secretary for forests, lands and natural resource operations for rural developments, said, “this is a good news story.”

Residents have been dealing with uncertainty since last week, she said. “Well, finally we can give you some certainty.”

Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - 07:52 • Carol Linnitt
mount polley mine tailings pond breach in BC

Residents in Likely, B.C. are concerned about drinking water affected by Mount Polley mining waste even after a water use ban was lifted for areas downstream of Quesnel Lake. The ban was put into effect on August 5, 2014, one day after the tailings pond at Mount Polley mine breached, sending billions of litres of mining waste into Hazeltine Creek, which feeds Quesnel Lake and Quesnel River.

The water advisory, released by the Cariboo Regional District, previously recommended not drinking water in the Quesnel Lake, Cariboo Creek, Hazeltine Creek and Polley Lake areas and extended down the entire Quesnel and Cariboo River systems to the Fraser River.

On Saturday the ban was lifted for areas south of 6236 Cedar Creek Road in Likely along the Quesnel River which flows north to Quesnel.

They lifted the water ban, but I don’t know a lot of people who are going to drink that water,” Kyle Giesbrecht said. “I’m not drinking it.”

Wednesday, August 6, 2014 - 15:01 • Carol Linnitt
mount polley mine tailings pond breach in BC

Officials with the Cariboo Regional District declared a local state of emergency Wednesday after millions of cubic metres of contaminated tailings water from the Mount Polley mine flooded Hazeltine Creek early Tuesday morning, spilling into Quesnel Lake. Water drinking and water use bans have been issued for Quesnel Lake, Polley Lake, Hazeltine Creek, Cariboo Creek, and the Quesnel and Cariboo River systems, up to the Fraser River, according to the B.C. Ministry of Energy and Mines.

The breach, caused by the collapse of a berm supporting a lake of mining waste that spanned four square kilometres, released an estimated 10 million cubic metres of water and slurry that contains toxic processing wastes including arsenic and mercury into salmon spawning and drinking waters.

The tailings pond at Mount Polley mine, operated by Imperial Metals, was used to dispose of 84,000 kilograms of arsenic, 10,000 kg of cadmium, 38,000kg of lead and 562 kg of mercury in 2013, according to company data released to Environment Canada.