Investigating tails pond breach

Mount Polley review panel calls for written submissions

The Mount Polley Independent Expert Engineering Investigation and Review Panel (review panel) is calling for written submissions from the public and informed interest groups to provide information relating to its investigation into the breach of the tailings storage facility (TSF) at the Mount Polley Mine on Aug. 4, 2014.

The review panel of three geotechnical experts was established by the Mount Polley Investigation and Inquiry Regulation BC Reg. 158/2014 on Aug. 14 to investigate and report on the breach of the Mount Polley Mine’s TSF.

The review panel is currently in the process of conducting its investigation and will release a report on its findings to the provincial government, the Soda Creek and the Williams Lake Indian Bands by Jan. 31, 2015.

According to its terms of reference, the review panel is expected, in its report, to identify:

• Any mechanism(s) of failure of the TSF;

• Any technical, management or other practices that may have enabled or contributed to the mechanism(s) of failure (and this may include an independent review of design, construction, operation, maintenance, surveillance and regulation of the TSF); and

• Any changes that could be considered to reduce the potential for future such occurrences.

As part of its investigation, the review panel is inviting written submissions on these three issues.

Members of the public and informed interest groups wishing to make submissions to the review panel must do so by Dec. 7, 2014.

To assist in the submission process and provide additional information related to the review panel and its terms of reference, a website has been developed at:

Review panel chair, Norbert Morgenstern, a well-recognized leader in the field of geotechnical engineering, stressed that the focus of the review panel’s investigation is on the factors related to the cause of the incident and not issues of environmental impact or liability.

“We are looking for input and comment from individuals and organizations that can contribute to our understanding of the factors and underlying causes of this dam failure, so we can determine the cause and identify actions that can be taken to avoid future such incidents.

“The scope of our investigation is narrowly focused, and it will be thorough, unbiased and professional. Other issues related to the environment and environmental damage and liability are being dealt with through other investigations and reviews.”

The review panel is also conducting geotechnical testing, conducting interviews and examining records as part of its investigation.

“At this point in time, it would be premature and not helpful to our independent investigation to comment on our process and our efforts to date.

“We are committed to providing a thorough and comprehensive report of all our activities and findings by the end of January. In the meantime, we would appreciate hearing from any individuals or organizations that can help us with our investigations.”

Submissions are requested in writing only and can be delivered to the review panel by mail at:

Mount Polley Independent Expert Engineering Investigation and Review Panel; 5B-940 Blanshard St.; Victoria, B.C.; V8W 3E6.

Submissions may also be made through the Review Panel’s website at:

All submissions must be received by the review panel prior to midnight Dec. 7, 2014.




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