Mine sought second water release increase

Mount Polley Mine was awaiting a second permit amendment from the B.C. government to increase water release

Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett

Mount Polley Mine management was awaiting a second permit amendment from the B.C. government to increase water released from its tailings facilities when the tailings pond dam breached in the early hours of Aug. 4.

Ministry of Environment records show the mine has had an effluent permit since 1997, and has operated since startup with a water surplus due to precipitation. In 2009 the company applied to amend the permit to allow discharge of up to 1.4 million cubic meters of water a year to discharge dam seepage effluent into Hazeltine Creek.

That permit was approved in 2012 after an independent report was commissioned to examine water quality impacts from sediment and contaminants, and measures needed to control them.

With the mine and its tailings facilities expanding and an exhausted pit being converted to underground mining, Mount Polley applied for another amendment to discharge up to three million cubic meters of treated water to Polley Lake.

“That application was received by the ministry this summer and is being considered,” the Ministry of Environment said in a statement Wednesday.

Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett said Mount Polley mine does not have acid-producing rock, which reacts with contaminants such as arsenic and mercury and allows them to mix with water. Bennett was on site this week with mine inspectors and environment ministry staff.

“We will find out if the company was not in compliance,” Bennett said Wednesday. “If they were hiding anything, if they made mistakes in building the dam higher, we will find out and hold them to account.”

Brian Kynoch, president of parent company Imperial Metals, was asked about the latest permit amendment at a public meeting in Likely Tuesday, where residents were shocked at the devastation and worried about the water quality in their lakes and rivers.

“I think we’re about to get the increase,” Kynoch said.

Kynoch said the breach did not occur at the highest point of the tailings dam, where water pressure was greatest, and the pond level was 2.5 metres below the top of the dam at the time.

Ministry records show Mount Polley was warned about high pond levels May 24, with the level returning to authorized levels by June 30. In April the company was issued an advisory about bypass of authorized treatment works due to high water flows in the spring runoff period.

Samples of tailings pond water taken Aug. 4 showed selenium concentration 2.8 times the drinking water guideline. Concentration of nitrates, cadmium, copper, iron and selenium have occasionally exceeded aquatic life guidelines in recent years. The permit required water volume not to exceed 35 per cent of the creek flow to dilute it.

 

Just Posted

Broken axle caused New Hazelton train derailment: TSB

It could happen again without a different way to inspect trains

Cullen remains uncertain about political future

Says he’ll make decision in early March

Terrace resident’s bill banning single-use plastics introduced in Ottawa

MP Nathan Cullen’s presented Ben Korving’s private member’s bill Wednesday

B.C. BUDGET: Surplus $374 million after bailouts of BC Hydro, ICBC

Growth projected stronger in 2020, Finance Minister Carole James says

Sell regulated heroin to curb B.C.’s overdose problem: report

B.C. Centre on Substance Use points to organized crime and money-laundering as contributing factors

Australian woman killed in avalanche at Whistler

The woman and her partner were reportedly rescued by ski patrol, but she did not survive

B.C. legislature moving suspended staff controversy to outside review

Whale watching, Seattle Mariners trips billed as emergency preparedness, Speaker Darryl Plecas says

Trudeau tells Canadians to listen to clerk in SNC-Lavalin matter

Privy Council clerk Michael Wernick delivered a blunt assessment at the House of Commons justice

Mueller report looming, new attorney general in hot seat

Robert Mueller is required to produce a confidential report to pursue or decline prosecutions

Regulator’s report unlikely to settle Trans Mountain pipeline expansion battle

The Trans Mountain pipeline will remain a controversial topic both in the political ring and out

B.C. woman shares story of abuse with church officials ahead of Vatican summit

Leona Huggins was the only Canadian in the gathering ahead of a historic summit at the Vatican

Galchenyuk scores in OT as Coyotes edge Canucks 3-2

Vancouver manages single point as NHL playoff chase continues

More people signing up for compulsory vaccines

Maple Ridge mom says public tired of hearing about measles

Most Read