Final Mt. Polley Report Will Not be Forwarded to Crown Counsel
Prince George, B.C.- There will be no charges laid for mining regulation violations in relation to the breach of the Mount Polley tailings pond breach in August of 2014.
Chief Inspector of Mines, Al Hoffman says there was no significant evidence to support charges.
That’s not to say Mount Polley ( which is operated by Imperial Metals) is totally off the hook. The Ministry of Environment’s investigation of the tailings pond breach is not yet complete, and depending on the findings of that investigation, charges could still be possible.
In releasing the final report on the cause of the breach, Hoffman says it was indeed started by a slip of a layer of clay beneath the tailing pond’s foundation. He says the tailings pond design was “inadequate for its location” and even though soil samples had been taken, the weak layer had not been detected saying there was an “Ongoing mistaken belief in the foundation conditions”. Hoff mans says in his report “The company and the engineers had opportunities to review and characterize the foundation soils but these opportunities were unnoticed, ignored and or discounted.”
Hoffman says even though a mine hires a certified contractor who is a certified engineer, “The responsibility lies with the mine and cannot be delegated” .
Hoffman’s report makes 19 recommendations, including calling for mines to have a dedicated mine dam safety manager.
Minister of Mines, Bill Bennett says “Companies cannot avoid the ultimate responsibility for the things that happen, or don’t happen on a mine site by pointing at their engineers or by pointing at their contractors.”
Bennett says the collapse of the dam “May not have happened if the company and its engineers had followed best practices and done more site investigation both in the beginning while the tailings storage facility was being designed ( back in the mid 1990s) and throughout the 20 years life of the mine.”