Tourism operators and St’át’imc, Xatśūll & T’exelcemc First Nations file lawsuits against Imperial Metals and BC government over harms caused by massive Mount Polley tailings pond dam failure

First Nations launch lawsuit against Mount Polley mine by Simon Little, August 4, 2016, News Talk 980 CKNW
Today marks two years since a tailings pond dam at the Mount Polley mine breached, releasing millions of litres of tainted water. Now, First Nations in the area are launching a pair of lawsuits claiming damage to their territory.

Jim MacArthur with the St’at’imc cheif’s council says it’s impossible to underestimate the importance of local watersheds to the nation.

“A river with salmon in it is much more than just a river with salmon in it. It’s the backbone of an entire way of life, and a culture that grew out of that way of life, and that culture is still practiced today.”

The St’at’imc, as well as the Soda Creek and Williams Lake bands, are now taking the province and Imperial Metals to court claiming negligence and possible long term damage to their traditional lands.

“Not only do we see an immediate consequence in the people left the river that year, but we will see in four years from 2014, we’ll see what measurable impact has been on the salmon.”

MacArthur says with salmon cycles it could take years to assess the impact, meaning a long court battle.

He also says that while the paperwork was filed this week, he expects they’ll take years to hear back, as the Nations collect data on possible ecological damage. [Emphasis added]

Tourism operators sue mining firm over Mount Polley tailing spill by Glen Schaefer, August 4, 2016, Vancouver Sun

The second anniversary of a mining disaster in British Columbia’s central Interior was marked with a First Nations protest and a pledge from the company that the situation has improved at the Mount Polley mine.

Two Quesnel Lake tourism operators are suing Mount Polley Mining, the provincial government and others for damages in connection with the catastrophic failure of the mine’s tailings dam two years ago.

Northern Lights Lodge Ltd., and Cariboo Mountains Fishing and Outdoor Adventures Ltd. filed separate civil writs July 29 in B.C. Supreme Court, both alleging that the tailings spill caused them losses of tour bookings and lodge rentals, also forcing them to spend more on marketing and offer discounts to clients.

Those claims have not been proven in court. The resort operators didn’t return phone and email messages Thursday. Quesnel Lake and its surroundings draw an international clientele for fly-fishing, ecotourism and wildlife viewing.

The Aug. 4, 2014, dam break at the open-pit copper and gold mine released 25 million cubic metres of toxic waste water and construction materials into Polley Lake, Hazeltine Creek and Quesnel Lake, more than nine kilometres from the mine.

The B.C. Ministry of Energy and Mines this June gave parent company Imperial Metals approval to resume full production at Mount Polley.

A spokesman for Imperial Metals said the company wouldn’t comment on the tour operators’ claims. Imperial Metals itself filed suit July 4 against two engineering firms, Knight Piésold and AMEC, for damages over the dam failure. Imperial claims the engineers’ negligence resulted in the failure. Those claims have yet to be proven in court.

The two engineering firms are also among the defendants in the suits filed by Northern Lights and Cariboo Mountains, as are the provincial ministries of Energy and Mines, and Environment. A provincial government spokesman said they are reviewing the claim. [Emphasis added]

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