The Quesnel River Research Centre plans to continue tracking the impacts of the sediment deposited into Quesnel Lake by the Mount Polley Mine tailings impoundment breach.
“We are going to be tracking some of the biological impacts of the sediment on algae, fish and zooplankton,” said UNBC Geography professor Dr. Ellen Petticrew.
Recently the QRRC put in a proposal for funding to the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council to further investigate whether metals are making their way into the food chain.
“We are also interested to know if sediment particles in the water column are affecting the way in which the fish behave,” Petticrew said. “One of our colleagues has done some work on copper and its affect on the behaviour of salmon.”
If funding’s secured it would cover the costs of hiring post-doctoral researchers and university students from Lethbridge, UBC and UNBC to do similar research to make sure the salmon aren’t being impacted.
“We won’t find out until late September if we get the funding for a three-year study so we’ll be doing things this summer off the backs of other projects,” Petticrew said.
In the meantime, Imperial Metals vice-president of corporate affairs Steve Robertson said the mine has done some testing of salmon eggs that were placed in tailings.
“There was no affect seen on the fry,” Robertson said.
Within the next few weeks, a paper written by the geochemistry consultant SRK looking at the geochemistry and uptake of metals into the water from the mine breach will be published and distributed to the Ministry of Energy and Mines and the Ministry of Environment, Robertson said.
“I think the results that will come out with that report will be very positive. Once it goes to the ministries we will post it,” he added.