Wanted: Letters requesting Mount Polley Mine be required to meet water quality guidelines

Wanted: Letters requesting Mount Polley Mine be required to meet water quality guidelines

First Nations Women Advocating Responsible Mining (FNWARM) is requesting help in changing the long-term operational plans for Mount Polley Mine.

In June 2016, less than two years after the catastrophic tailings dam fail in August 2014, and despite numerous ongoing concerns from First Nations and the public, including an incomplete criminal investigation, the province of British Columbia allowed the mine to return to full-scale operations. Once again, the mine has more contaminated water on-site than it can safely store.

Mount Polley Mine now has an open application to discharge wastewater into the already seriously impacted Quesnel Lake, and to groundwater via Bootjack Lake as the long-term solution to their pollution.

FNWARM is requesting that everyone concerned by the ongoing wastewater discharge into Quesnel Lake, Bootjack Lake, and the Fraser River watershed write letters to the BC Ministry of Environment demanding that Mount Polley Mine, at minimum, be required to meet all water quality guidelines at the end of their pipes without needing to dilute it in Fraser River Basin waterways. Comments are due by December 23, 2016.

Please support FNWARM’s call for full treatment to remove contaminates from wastewater discharge by:
  1. Sending your comments to the government with the subject line “Comments on technical assessment report” before Dec. 23, 2016;
  2. Sharing this request with your friends, family and colleagues and encouraging them to also write;
  3. Helping FNWARM keep track of the letters going to the government by sending a copy of your comments to Jacinda Mack at jacinda.mack@gmail.com

WRITING YOUR EMAIL TO THE GOVERNMENT:

Submit your comments with the subject line “Comments on technical assessment report” to: MtPolleyEnvironmental.Enquiries@gov.bc.ca      Due Dec. 23, 2016

Content: Using you own words, clearly state your opposition to the wastewater discharge proposal and your support for full water treatment measures to be taken before wastewater is discharged. To further assist you, some of the concerns are highlighted in the Ongoing Issues and Concerns section further down this page.

Reports:
–  Mt. Polley permit amendment application, technical assessment: https://www.imperialmetals.com/our-operations-and-projects/operations/mount-polley-mine/long-term-water-management-plan-application
–  Other information on the disaster. http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/epd/mount-polley/

Recent Media Coverage
Williams Lake Tribune: Letter- Time to Pull Together (Nov.8, 2016)
http://www.wltribune.com/opinion/letters/400459181.html

Mining Watch Canada Files Charges Against BC Government and Mount Polley Mine for 2014 Tailings Disaster
http://miningwatch.ca/news/2016/10/18/miningwatch-canada-files-charges-against-bc-government-and-mount-polley-mine-2014

2 Year Anniversary Media Coverage
Vancouver Sun: Mount Polley Clean Up Heavily Subsidized (Aug. 4, 2016)
http://vancouversun.com/opinion/columnists/opinion-mount-polley-cleanup-heavily-taxpayer-subsidized

Huffington Post: “All Is Not Well 2 Years After Mount Polley Disaster”  (Aug 4, 2016)
http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/jacinda-mack/mount-polley-mine-disaster-bc-leak_b_11318498.html

Globe and Mail: Mount Polley mine still at risk for future tailings breach: analyst (Aug. 4, 2016)
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/mount-polley-mine-still-at-risk-for-future-tailings-breach-analyst/article31269473/

DeSmog Canada, Mount Polley Mine Two Years In- It’s Worse than it’s ever been (Aug. 4, 2016)
https://www.desmog.ca/2016/08/04/mount-polley-mine-disaster-two-years-it-s-worse-it-s-ever-been


Ongoing Issues and Concerns

The following are Mount Polley concerns expressed at public and First Nation community meetings in the Cariboo Region, most recently at Likely (Oct. 30, 2016),  and Williams Lake Indian Band (Nov. 14, 2016).

  • The end of pipe discharge proposed does not meet water quality guidelines and depends on Quesnel Lake to “treat” the pollution by diluting it. It assumes Quesnel Lake will never become saturated with mine pollution over time.
  • The Long Term Water Management Plan does not mention removing mine tailings deposited in Quesnel Lake, Polley Lake, and along the forest edges of Hazeltine Creek as a result of the Aug. 4, 2014 disaster. So far, the long-term plan is to simply leave them.
  • No one knows the long-term effects of tailings deposits on human health, resident trout, salmon nurseries, birds and wildlife in the watershed and beyond. Adding more polluted wastewater to this system does not make sense.
  • Quesnel Lake drains into the Fraser watershed, and could further impact salmon spawning grounds and future runs in these waters. Initial impacts will remain unknown until at least 2018, due to the 4-year salmon cycle. 2016 was a very poor salmon year.
  • Quesnel Lake residents are afraid to drink Quesnel Lake water and now have severe water filter problems (post disaster), yet the mine denies the mine is associated with this.
  • The discharge permit request states a 4-year operating period, but an expansion plan exists to operate the mine for ten or more years. (M200 permit).
  • Mount Polley does not have a proven system in place to treat mine water after it closes, but are asking for approvals anyway and hopefully will have it in place by the time they close.
  • There appears to be an attempt to rush this permit. Initially the public was given only 30 days to respond to the complex 1,200 page Long Term Water Management Plan Application. Likely and Xat’sull members helped get this extended. It was first approved as a temporary permit that is valid until November 2017.
  • There is an ongoing criminal investigation regarding the Aug.4, 2014 disaster and MPM operations – with no set date for an announcement on findings.
  • Xat’sull First Nation, Williams Lake Indian Band, Tsilhqot’in Nation Government, Likely residents and businesses, and MiningWatch Canada have all filed papers to sue Mount Polley and the BC government.
  • The globally accepted United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People regarding Free, Prior & Informed Consent has not been followed- which states that CONSENT must be given by indigenous peoples to projects in their lands.
  • The government’s actions regarding Mount Polley will set a precedent for future mining operations in BC and beyond.

What is FNWARM?
Members of First Nations Women Advocating Responsible Mining (www.fnwarm.com), have all experienced the negative impacts of mining in their communities. FNWARM promotes mining reforms that respect Indigenous rights and the environment, make safety a priority, and ensures that lands and communities are not destroyed for the short-term gain of others. FNWARM’s Jacinda Mack (Xat’sull First Nation) is also an Advisor to the national Indigenous Leadership Initiative and the international Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance.