‘We don’t want the mine to go away. We just want things done right,’ local official says
The Canadian Press – Lisa Kraus says it’s been a difficult two years in the tiny central British Columbia community of Likely, where the collapse of a massive tailings dam at the Mount Polley mine opened wounds that have yet to heal.
Twenty-four million cubic metres of mine waste and water gushed into nearby lakes and rivers on Aug. 4, 2014. An independent, government-ordered panel of experts concluded the cause was an inadequately designed dam at the Imperial Metals open pit copper and gold mine that didn’t account for drainage and erosion failures beneath the pond.
One of the panel’s geotechnical engineers described the location and design of the pond as loading a gun and pulling the trigger. “We were woken up in the middle of the night,” said Kraus, who lives on riverfront property just downstream from the mine site.
“We had people camped down in our lower lot and we were told to wake them up … because we were uncertain how much or what was going to come down from the lake into the river.”
There were no casualties, but the collapse dumped millions of cubic metres of mine waste into Quesnel Lake and clogged salmon-bearing streams and rivers with waste and trees.
Kraus, who serves as Likely’s chamber of commerce vice president and community co-ordinator, said despite government reports that water quality in Quesnel Lake meets provincial drinking quality guidelines, many residents are still concerned.
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