Mount Polley Mine disaster should be a wake-up call

Following the catastrophic tailings pond spill that took place Monday at the Imperial Metals Mount Polley Copper Mine, the Green Party of Canada is calling for far more stringent safety requirements and a comprehensive review of tailings ponds across Canada.

“The disaster at Imperial is a stark reminder that inspections and enforcement procedures must be strengthened,” said Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and MP for Saanich–Gulf Islands.

“It is not good enough to know that Imperial was warned – A watchdog cannot be toothless. There are literally tens of thousands of square kilometres of tailings ponds across Canada – They require regular maintenance and inspections, and an adaptation plan to deal with the increased risk of deluge rain events due to climate change”

An estimated 10 billion litres of highly toxic wastewater and 4.5 million cubic metres of contaminated sand were released into Polley Lake in the BC interior following a tailings pond breach at the nearby Imperial Metals Mount Polley Copper Mine. The breach has been described as the single largest environmental disaster in BC history.

“Mercifully, this was a relatively dry summer in the North Cariboo region – if water levels had been higher, this disaster could have been much worse,” added May. “As extreme weather events become the new normal, we must ensure that Canada’s tailings ponds are prepared for higher levels of rainfall, or face the devastating consequences of inaction.”