Water-destined-for-Quesnel-Lake-gathering-in-a-sediment-pond.jpg

Video: Fisheries Biologist Richard Holmes on the Mount Polley Mine Spill One Year Later

This week marks the one-year anniversary of the Mount Polley mine spill, the largest mining disaster in Canadian history. On August 4, 2014 an estimated 24 million cubic metres of mining waste spilled from a failed tailings impoundment, flowing down the Hazeltine Creek into Quesnel Lake, a local source of drinking water and home to an estimated quarter of the province’s sockeye salmon.

DeSmog Canada spoke with local resident and fisheries biologist Richard Holmes to discuss the anniversary of the accident. Holmes said some members of his community are disappointed the mine hasn’t done more to repair the social and economic damage done to residents in the wake of the spill.

Although the Mount Polley mine, owned by Imperial Metals, has put an estimated $67 million into stabilizing the Hazeltine Creek, Holmes said the area resembles a “pretty ditch” that won’t be suitable fish habitat for at least two more years.

“It’s disappointing,” Holmes said.

“The last public meeting was about a month ago and I was really disappointed to watch the mine and their consultants and the government people act like they’d just won the lottery. There were as happy as pigs in shit.”

Holmes said the company was eager to have the mine up and running again — something the province gave them approval to do last month. The mine partially reopened in July to the frustration of locals who feel not enough has been done to make reparations for the spill.

“I felt somewhat insulted actually,” Holmes said. “Here our community had just gone through this year of frustration with both parties and their main focus was the environment, which is good, there’s no doubt about that, but their second focus, an equally important focus was on the economics of it.”

“But they've forgotten completely about the social impacts and the cultural and economic impacts on the people in the community.”

Image Credit: Water destined for Quesnel Lake gathers in a sediment pond, March 2015. Photo: Farhan Umedaly 

New title

You’ve read all the way to the bottom of this article. That makes you some serious Narwhal material.

And since you’re here, we have a favour to ask. Our independent, ad-free journalism is made possible because the people who value our work also support it (did we mention our stories are free for all to read, not just those who can afford to pay?).

As a non-profit, reader-funded news organization, our goal isn’t to sell advertising or to please corporate bigwigs — it’s to bring evidence-based news and analysis to the surface for all Canadians. And at a time when most news organizations have been laying off reporters, we’ve hired five journalists over the past year.

Not only are we filling a void in environment coverage, but we’re also telling stories differently — by centring Indigenous voices, by building community and by doing it all as a people-powered, non-profit outlet supported by more than 3,300 members

The truth is we wouldn’t be here without you. Every single one of you who reads and shares our articles is a crucial part of building a new model for Canadian journalism that puts people before profit.

We know that these days the world’s problems can feel a *touch* overwhelming. It’s easy to feel like what we do doesn’t make any difference, but becoming a member of The Narwhal is one small way you truly can make a difference.

We’ve drafted a plan to make 2021 our biggest year yet, but we need your support to make it all happen.

If you believe news organizations should report to their readers, not advertisers or shareholders, please become a monthly member of The Narwhal today for any amount you can afford.

B.C. defers old-growth logging in Fairy Creek and Central Walbran upon First Nations’ request

B.C. has accepted a request by the Pacheedaht, Ditidaht and Huu-ay-aht First Nations to defer old-growth logging for two years in the Fairy Creek watershed...

Continue reading

Recent Posts

Help power our ad-free, non‑profit journalism
Bring The Narwhal to Ontario!

We’ve got big plans to launch an Ontario bureau. Will you show your support by signing up for a weekly dose of our ad‑free, independent journalism?