LIKELY, B.C. – An early assessment of the environmental impact of a mine tailings pond failure in British Columbia is expected today when the first water-testing results may be released.
B.C. Mines Minister Bill Bennett has so far said it’s too soon to estimate the damage caused by the Mount Polley Mine breach, but says he hopes for positive news.
The government has promised a thorough investigation into the actions of the provincial government and Imperial Metals in the wake of Monday’s dam collapse.
A tailings pond dam at the mine failed on Monday, sending 10 million cubic metres of water and 4.5 million cubic metres of toxic silt into Polley Lake and Quesnel Lake.
The breach prompted a water-use ban along surrounding lakes and rivers and the B.C. environment ministry has collected water samples in the area.
The company’s president has said the water is already almost drinking quality, but a ministry official disagreed, based on metals found in the water at other times in recent years.
Sharon Borkowski owns Northern Lights Lodge in the community closest to the disaster and she says while she’s optimistic with the company’s statements that the water is safe, she’s still cautiously awaiting testing results.
Imperial Metals was formally ordered Wednesday to clean up the site and prevent more material from escaping.