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Safety first at Mount Polley, and then restoration
Editor: Re: “Many questions about Mount Polley tailings pond disaster,” (The Times, Aug. 11).
The B.C. government’s immediate priority is to continue working together with the Cariboo Regional District to address the breach at the Mount Polley tailings pond, to test local water to determine if it is safe for drinking and household use, and to ensure the safety and well-being of residents.
Once the initial response to the incident is over, government will shift its focus to overseeing any long-term remediation and restoration of the environment needed, which will include ensuring that long-term water quality monitoring is in place.
The cause of the breach is still unknown; however, the Ministry of Environment’s Conservation Officer Service is already leading the investigation, assisted by Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and the RCMP. Investigators from the COS have been at the Mount Polley site since Aug. 4, conducting interviews and collecting evidence.
The COS is the primary natural resource law enforcement agency in B.C., and specializes in commercial, environmental and industrial investigations. Conservation officers are Special Provincial Constables under the Police Act with a wide range of powers associated with the designation.
The COS has full authority to handle investigations independently and forward recommendations for charges directly to provincial Crown counsel.
In addition, the Inspector of Mines and other government agencies are undertaking a comprehensive investigation to determine causes for the breach. This will take several months. Lessons learned will be applied to other mines in the province as appropriate.
Minister of Environment,