Mount Polley: Mining Is Disaster
- August 13, 2014
Mount Polley: Mining Is DisasterHarsha Walia
The Mount Polley mining disaster in B.C. has barely been sustained in national news, let alone break in international news. This is despite the fact that mining experts are cautioning that the incident is the largest mining disaster in Canadian, possibly even global, history. Where it has made news, the incident is exceptionalized as a single accident, a failure, or the incompetence of one company. The notorious Canadian mining industry, actively supported by provincial and federal governments, has largely escaped public and media scrutiny.
Mount Polley disaster
Two weeks ago, the dam of the tailings pond breached from the Mount Polley mine near Likely, on Secwepemc territory, releasing 2.5 billion gallons of contaminated water and 4.5 million cubic metres of metals-laden fine sand into Hazeltine Creek, Polley Lake and Quesnel Lake. A state of emergency has been declared in the Cariboo Region, a water-use ban is in place, and federal and Indigenous fisheries have shut down salmon fishing. The long-term impacts are severe: about 2.4 million people -- 63 per cent of the province's population -- live along the Fraser River in 32 downstream communities and Metro Vancouver.
Imperial Metals operates the Mount Polley gold and copper mine. An environmental engineering firm, the Shushwap Nation Tribal Council, a former foreman, and the Ministry of the Environment have all confirmed that Imperial Metals was warned during previous site inspections....