Southeast of Quesnel, BC: Bottled water use ordered after Imperial Metals Corporation’s tailings pond failed sending millions of cubic metres of waste into roads and waterways

24 second clip by RCMP

Imperial Metals shares plunge after spill at B.C. mine site by Jeffrey Jones and Rachelle Youngai, August 5, 2014, The Globe and Mail
A mining company controlled by oil executive Murray Edwards lost nearly half its value after its gold and copper mine in British Columbia spewed waste into the surrounding lakes and creeks. The accident pushed Imperial Metals Corp.’s stock down 44 per cent to $9.42, its lowest level in two years, and triggered an analyst downgrade.

The problem started early morning on Monday when the mine’s dump storage, or pond that holds the waste from the open pit mine, split open. …
Imperial Metals, which is 36 per cent owned by Mr. Edwards, said the cause of the break was unknown at this time and that it had “no indication of an impending breach.”

The company suspended operations at its Mount Polley mine, which had been on track to produce 47,000 ounces of gold, 44 million pounds of copper and 120,000 ounces of silver this year. The company said it did not know how long it would take to restore operations.

“This is a serious incident that should not have happened,” Bill Bennett, B.C.’s energy and mines minister, said in a statement.

Analysts with BMO Nesbitt Burns called the spill “extremely negative” and said it could cost the miner about $200-million for repairs and other damages. The bank downgraded Imperial Metals to “underperform” from “outperform.” The incident adds to Mr. Edwards’s environmental woes.

The Calgary financier is chairman of the board at Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., which has been struggling since last year [2009!] to contain a persistent bitumen spill at its Primrose oil sands development in northeastern Alberta.

The surface leaks have had a relatively minor impact on the company’s overall production but its reputation as a safe operator has taken a serious hit….

Mr. Edwards was not immediately available for comment on the tailings pond breach. One of Western Canada’s most prominent investors, he is also known for his interests in Ensign Energy Services Inc., the Calgary Flames of the National Hockey League and Resorts of the Canadian Rockies, which include such ski destinations as Fernie in B.C., Nakiska in Alberta and Mont Sainte-Anne in Quebec. [Emphasis added]

Water use ban imposed southeast of Quesnel after tailings pond breached by Steven Chua, The Canadian Press, August 4, 2014, Calgary Herald

QUESNEL, B.C. – Authorities are expanding a water-use ban to include the Quesnel and Cariboo Rivers up to the Fraser River after a tailings pond southeast of Quesnel was breached, sending millions of cubic metres of waste water into nearby roads and waterways.

An initial ban advised all residents living around the Mount Polley mine area, near the town of Likely, to use only bottled water until further notice. The advisory affected hundreds of people living around Quesnel Lake, Polley Lake, Hazeltine Creek and Cariboo Creek. The ban has since been expanded to include anyone living along the Quesnel and Cariboo Rivers.

Authorities are asking people in the region to stop using water from both rivers. Those areas are sparsely populated and the Cariboo Regional District has not determined how many people have been affected.

People in Quesnel are also being asked to avoid using water from the Quesnel River.

The ban does not apply to people in Williams Lake or other towns along the Fraser River. Authorities had previously said Likely was not directly affected, because it was unclear how many people in the town used water from Quesnel Lake.

But since then, the Cariboo Regional District has decided to start delivering water to Likely because the main supplier of bottled water in the area, a small grocery store, could not keep up with the demand.

Al Richmond, chair of the district, said search and rescue crews evacuated campers in the Mount Polley area. But shelters have not been provided for them, as they appear to have set up camp elsewhere without any problems.

Early Monday morning, the earthen dam holding waste water from the Mount Polley mine was breached, sending its contents into Hazeltine Creek, Richmond said. He said most of the waste appears to have been contained in the creek, though some of the material has flowed into Quesnel Lake and Polley Lake. “The majority of the slurry and the debris was contained at the mouth of the creek,” said Richmond. “While there has been some flow of that material into the lake, it hasn’t been substantial in consideration of the size of the spill.”

The width of the creek has swollen in size because of the washout. “At one time it was four feet and now it’s 150 feet,” he said.

The Horsefly-Likely Road, which joins Likely to the town of Horsefly, has been washed out, and authorities have closed it down until cleanup crews finish making repairs.

The Cariboo Regional District has not received any reports of injuries or people getting sick from drinking water. No property damage reports have been filed, though that may change with time, Richmond said.

The Ministry of Environment said it is working to determine how much environmental damage has been done. “Further monitoring and testing of waterways will be required before the full extent of potential environmental impacts can be determined,” the ministry said in a written statement.

Water test results are expected in days.

No other details have been released as authorities are trying to determine the cause and extent of the breach. [Intentional perhaps, to cheaply get rid of the company’s toxic waste? The Harper government has massively deregulated and removed water way protections in Canada, for a fracing free for all profit taking, and events like this]

Mount Polley is an open pit copper and gold mine owned by then (TSX:III). The company has been involved on the construction or operation of seven mines, the majority in British Columbia. Requests for comment from Imperial were not immediately returned. Tailings ponds contain waste water from mines. [Emphasis added]

[Refer also to:

Where’s the regulator? CNRL releases into formation another 7000 gallons of Crude Bitumen at Primrose, Cold lake, does not yet know how to repair the problem, or past releases

November 17, 2013: Alberta Environment needs to stop lying about water contamination: One billion litres of waste water contaminated Athabasca River with mercury levels 9 times more than normal, PAHs 4 times more than allowed ]

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