A tailings storage facility breach at Imperial Metals Corporation’s Mount Polley mine in central British Columbia has caused the release of approximately five million cubic metres of wastewater into Hazeltine Creek.
The leak has resulted in a complete water ban affecting the entire Quesnel and Cariboo river systems, including Quesnel Lake and Polley Lake, in addition to Hazeltine Creek. The ban will affect about 300 nearby residents.
“Our first priority is the health and safety of our employees and neighbours, and we are relieved no loss of life or injury have been reported,” Imperial Metals Corporation issued in a statement. “We are deeply concerned and are working to mitigate immediate effects and understand the cause.”
With the water ban in effect, the Ministry of Environment is working to assess the scope of environmental damage.
“Further monitoring and testing of waterways will be required before the full extent of potential environmental impacts can be determined,” the ministry said in a written statement.
Ed Note: The tailings pond breach and toxic spill disaster by Imperial Metals sent a slurry-like mixture of 10 million cubic metres of water and 4.5 million cubic metres of fine heavy metals contaminated sediment into Polley Lake, Hazeltine Creek, and Quesnel Lake.