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Tue, 2014-08-26 12:58Carol Linnitt
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The Last Cast: Northern Lights Lodge Dims Early After Mount Polley Mine Spill

Skeed Borkowski Northern Lights Lodge, DeSmog Canada, Mount Polley mine spill

I planned on dying here,” Skeed Borkowski, owner of the Northern Lights Lodge, told me. “But not from drinking the water.”

The lodge, located on Quesnel Lake, is one of many local homes and businesses left to hang precariously in the aftermath of the Mount Polley mine spill that released billions of litres of mining waste into the local environment, including Quesnel Lake.

On August 4th a massive tailings pond holding waste water and sediment from the Imperial Metals gold and copper mine breached, sending a mixture of contaminants including arsenic, mercury, selenium, zinc and lead into Polley Lake and Hazeltine Creek, which flows into Quesnel Lake.

I’m 66,” Skeed said. “My wife is 64. This was the time that we were going to…take it a little easier.

Sat, 2014-08-23 13:26Carol Linnitt
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Nearly Three Weeks Later, Impact of Mount Polley Spill on Quesnel Lake Virtually Unknown: Expert

mount polley mine tailings pond breach in BC

It’s hard to deal [with] and treat something if you don’t know what it is,” Richard Holmes, fisheries biologist with Cariboo Envirotech, said in an interview at Mount Polley Mine, home to the tailings pond that breached August 4th, sending an estimated 14.5 billion litres of mining waste into the local environment, including Quesnel Lake, a major source of drinking water in the Cariboo region of B.C.

At this stage the impacts on Quesnel Lake are virtually unknown,” Holmes said.

Very little is known about the significance of the accident, although it has been nearly three weeks since the spill, one of the worst environmental disasters in B.C.’s history, that sent the Cariboo region into a state of local emergency.

Last week authorities rescinded a broad drinking water ban that prevented residents from bathing in or drinking the water, or eating locally caught fish. A partial drinking ban remains in place for the immediate region of the spill, including Polley Lake, Hazeltine Creek and a one hundred metre zone surrounding the spot where the billions of litres of tailings waste poured into Quesnel Lake.

It is this particular area, where sludge from the spill sits slumped into Quesnel Lake, that is of concern to Holmes.

Mon, 2014-08-18 16:53Carol Linnitt
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Soda Creek First Nation Struggles to Cover Costs of Independent Mount Polley Water Testing

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 Sellars, 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.

Sun, 2014-08-17 13:50Carol Linnitt
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The Oilsands Cancer Story Part 3: The Spotlight Turns on Fort Chip Doctor

Fort Chipewyan Cemetery. Fort Chip, located downstream of the oilsands, has higher than average cancer rates.

This is the third installment in a three-part series on Dr. John O'Connor, the family physician to first identify higher-than-average cancer rates and rare forms of cancer in communities downstream of the Alberta oilsands.

Part 3: The Spotlight Turns On Fort Chip Doctor

After the story of Fort Chip’s health problems broke, Health Canada sent physicians out to the small, northern community.

Dr. John O’Connor said one of the Health Canada doctors went into the local nursing station and, in front of a reporter, filled a mug with Fort Chip water and drank from it, saying, ‘See, there’s nothing wrong with it.’

That was such a kick in the face for everyone,” O’Connor said. “Just a complete dismissal of their concerns.”

Health Canada eventually requested the charts of the patients who had died. Six weeks later they announced the findings of a report that concluded cancer rates were no higher in Fort Chip than expected.

For O’Connor, however, the numbers “just didn’t match up.”

Fri, 2014-08-15 13:00Carol Linnitt
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Swapping Red Tape for Caution Tape: Why B.C. Can Expect More Mount Polleys

mount polley mine tailings pond breach in BC

As we pull up to the mouth of the Hazeltine Creek, where billions of litres of mining waste from the Imperial Metals Mount Polley mine spilled into Quesnel Lake on August 4th, I’m thinking to myself what numerous locals have recently said to me: this shouldn’t have happened.

All of the warning signs were present that the waste pit for the mine was overburdened: employees raised the alarm, government citations were issued, engineering reports contained warnings.

It shouldn’t have happened, and yet it did.

Thu, 2014-08-14 15:34Carol Linnitt
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10 Days In, No Cleanup Effort at Site of Imperial Metals Mount Polley Mine Spill

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.

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