UBC mine engineering professor Dirk Van Zyl (left) is introduced by Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett as one of three independent experts to investigate the cause of the Mount Polley tailings dam failure. Their report is due by Jan. 31.

Mount Polley spill may be left in place

Further tests will determine whether the metal-bearing sand will be removed or left where it is, Mines Minister Bill Bennett says

Further tests of mine tailings spilled down a creek bed from the Mount Polley mine will determine whether the metal-bearing sand will be removed or left where it is, Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett said this week.

The first lab tests on sediment samples at the mouth of Hazeltine Creek showed that while the material that poured down to the creek mouth in Quesnel Lake isn’t a health hazard to humans, its iron and copper content are above federal and provincial standards for aquatic life.

Bennett said it’s encouraging that the first sediment results did not show presence of arsenic, mercury or cadmium, toxic elements found in mine rock or used in mine processing.

A comparison sample of compact sediment from the mouth of nearby Raft Creek, not affected by the Aug. 4 tailings pond breach, also tested above sediment quality guidelines for iron. The environment ministry says mineral deposits that attract mine development often have naturally occurring metal concentrations much higher than other areas.

“What we need to do is test those sediments to determine whether it’s better environmentally to leave them there or to try to collect them and get them out of the creek bed and get them out of the creek mouth in Quesnel Lake,” Bennett said. “Before you start dredging lake bottoms and trying to clean up the bottom of a creek bed to get the sand out, you’ve got to determine what the risk is first, and that’s the phase that we’re in right now.”

There are two priority jobs underway on the spill site. One is pumping down the level of Polley Lake, the smaller lake next to the mine site that received a surge of water and tailings that plugged the outlet with an elevated water level. The other is reconstructing the breached section of the dam to prevent rain from carrying more tailings from the pond.

Interior Health is reviewing water and sediment sample results and a long-term monitoring and remediation plan has been submitted by the mine operator, a division of Imperial Metals.

 

Just Posted

Feasting geese concern farmers

For farmers on the Saanich Peninsula, cereal crops like corn are starting… Continue reading

Cycling Without Age raises funds for program

Free rides for seniors coming to Sidney

Feast of Fields settles in for the summer of 2018

Vancouver Island Feast set for Kildara Farms in North Saanich on Aug. 26

An upstart ferry company might be a Malahat alternative

A new ferry service might alleviate Malahat congestion. Dogwood Ferries is a… Continue reading

Have your say about how Central Saanich grows

Upcoming open houses will affect long-term community plan

New stage highlight of Brentwood Bay Festival

Peninsula Country Market vendors and music accompany start of summer celebration

Sidney painter also a preacher

Patrick Chu opens new studio; off to China this month

Canada won’t ‘play politics’ on U.S. migrant children policy

The U.S. government is under fire over its ”zero tolerance” policy

Capitals coach resigns after Stanley Cup win

Barry Trotz announced his resignation on Monday

Baseball HarbourCats sit at .500 heading into Bend road trip

Port Angeles wins two of three in weekend WCL series in Victoria

Weekend book sale at Nellie McClung library branch

All books free Sunday afternoon, with a $10 admission

B.C. pledges $550 million for Indigenous housing

Aboriginal leaders say federal government needs to pitch in too

Sweden beats South Korea 1-0

Sweden gets benefit of video review in World Cup

Most Read