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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 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.

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.

Thu, 2014-08-14 09:25Carol Linnitt
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Photos: I Went to the Mount Polley Mine Spill Site

imperial metals mount polley mine tailings pond breach in BC

It’s Monday, August 11th, and both my gumboots are dangerously sinking into the muck I’m trying to cross.

I took far too bold a step towards a sturdy log ahead as I’m trying to cross a sludge river left behind in the wake of the Mount Polly mine tailings pond breach.

Now I’m balanced precariously, one boot in front, one behind, and trying not to topple into the muck beneath that could contain high levels of arsenic, mercury, zinc, lead and selenium – all toxins and heavy metals stored in the breached tailings pond fed by the Imperial Metals gold and copper mine near Likely B.C.

Wed, 2014-08-13 16:37Carol Linnitt
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Concerns Linger After Drinking Water Ban Rescinded for Area Affected by Mount Polley Tailings Pond Breach

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.”

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