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October 27, 2017 8:53 pm

$800K Secured to Continue Research into Mt. Polley Breach

Wednesday, October 5, 2016 @ 11:56 AM

Prince George, B.C. – About $800,000 in federal funds will allow researchers at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) to “up their game” when it comes to their research of the August 2014 tailings pond breach at the Mt. Polley Mine in Likely.

It’s the first block of external funding researchers have received and will be used to continue their work at the Dr. Max Blouw Quesnel River Research Centre.

The money comes from the Government of Canada’s Environmental Damages Fund (EDF) which is based on a polluter pays principle and ensures that court-awarded penalties for environmental violations are used for projects that will restore or improve the environment.

UNBC says the funding comes from a fine levied in 2014 related to a tailings pond breach in Northern Quebec.

“This significant source of funding for our research now means that we can do many of the medium to long-term monitoring and sampling programs that we were hoping to do,” says Dr. Phil Owens.

“It also means that we can bring in a group of collaborators from the University of British Columbia, the University of Lethbridge and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to do a more comprehensive assessment of the physical, the chemical and the biological impacts of the breach.”

Up until now he says UNBC has provided “bridge funding” to ensure research could commence during the interim (he isn’t sure of the exact amount but Owens calls it a “six figure sum). Owen says researchers have also received smaller donations from a few organizations in the region.

That research started just moments after the breach occurred and was shared at an open house at the Dr. Max Blouw Quesnel River Research Centre in October 2014. Owens and his colleague Dr. Ellen Petticrew also published a paper in the journal Geophysical Research Letters (which was also co-authored with other Quesnel Lake researchers) in May 2015.

With the use of EDF funds Owens says a research team brought in a specialized corer on loan from the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Halifax to collect samples of tailings and sediment at the bottom of the lake this summer.

Owen says the new block of federal funding will allow them to “up their game”. He says it’s for three years but expects research to continue much longer than that.

“Because the Quesnel River Research Centre is so close to where the mine spill occurred, I envision that we will be doing work for 5-10 years or perhaps even longer,” he says.

“The fact it takes a long time to see the real picture, particularly when you’re looking at the ecosystem as a food web, that can take many years in order to understand the full picture.



Well now, no issues found but send us more money, with more money we will find an issue, really we will, honest.

Now all we need is the climate change dept. to scam some of that money. Hey the flood must have affected climate somehow.

Notice how they take great pains to show its not taxpayer money, but still money being thrown at a dead horse.

“The money comes from the Government of Canada’s Environmental Damages Fund (EDF) which is based on a polluter pays principle and ensures that court-awarded penalties for environmental violations are used for projects that will restore or improve the environment.”

Really??? But Imperial Metals faces “NO” charges or fines from Canada’s largest ever environmental mining disaster. Must be nice operating a mine in BC without having any fear of penalties or consequences if something goes wrong!!!


    So here’s the problem. Mt. Polley is a corporation owned by Imperial. Once the breach happened, Mt. Polley for all intents and purposes was bankrupt. That company didn’t have the money to pay for the damage, and was worthless after the breach. So, Imperial offers to step up to the plate – which they didn’t have to do legally. So you can be sure there was some negotiation around charges and stuff before Imperial kicked in another $43 million net of taxes. Had that deal not been made, the government would have borne all the costs of remediation, and would be fighting with Imperial in court to try and get something from them. It may stink, but it stinks less than the other option.

    What’s a government to do. We all want good paying jobs, companies will not extract resources if the cost of doing so, exceeds the price they can get for those resources, so something, somewhere along the way get’s ignored.

    And at the end of the day, the majority of BC wealth comes from resource extraction in some form or another, whether it be log removal, minerals, hydro electricity. We have to trade something, to get something.

    So if we give too long a list of demands, nobody sets up shop in BC, and we can’t afford to pay for all the stuff we want.

    And it’s only going to get worse, as more people immigrate to BC and the pressure is on to create employment for them.

      well said.

    What disaster?, In this case no one hurt, no property damage very low level of impurities. The water was almost drinking water quality so once diluted into the lake no issue. These metals already exist in the lake naturally.

    Nature will quickly grow over the flooded areas as nature does with any flood.

    UNBC has been studying this area for two years now and have they found anything? So again more money needed, eventually a problem may be found, maybe therefore lets milk that cash cow.

    I believe all restrictions related to water quality are lifted and has been for some time. I am sure if there was an issue there would still be restrictions.

seamutt, I do fall right of center. However, I believe that the water that did spill into lake was likely near drinking water, however when the damn was breached, all of the sediments also washed into the lake.

I would rather error on the side of caution than to say, whew, that was a close call.

    Not all

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