Letters: Mount Polley tailings pond spill sensationalized

Dear Editor,

I fail to understand why special interest groups continue to sensationalize the Mount Polley mine incident [Polley impact yet to be seen, Aug. 21 Our View, and Stewards actually administrators, Aug. 19 Odd Thoughts, Langley Advance]. Yes, a dam failed and thousands of litres of water and mud knocked out a swath of trees and deposited them into Polley Lake.

However, the water was not toxic, as many claim, and from my understanding, the mixture contains minimal amounts of naturally occurring minerals, metals, rock, sand, silt, and mud.

Yes, the site looks horrendous, but it’s not unlike any other naturally occurring mudslide that happens regularly all over B.C.

Thankfully, no one was hurt or injured, and the water tests continue to confirm that the water in the creeks and lakes is fit for human consumption and perfectly safe for fish. Scientists also continue to confirm that arsenic, mercury, and lead levels fall well below the maximum allowable limits for drinking water.

Today, people are once again watching fish jump in the lake and can drink the water, and there is every reason to expect that, in a year, natural vegetation re-growth will render the incident almost undetectable.

Yes, we need to find out why this happened and do what we can to ensure that it does not happen again.

But I am not going to let all the “anti-everything” alarmists out there continue to suggest that we shut down an industry that so many families rely on. Instead, let’s make it better.

Donald Leung, Burnaby

[Editor’s note: In fact, the amount of material spilled was tens of billions, rather than “thousands” of litres. Imperial Metals Corp.’s report submitted to the federal government on its Mount Polley copper-gold mine last year said the tailings contained thousands of tonnes of copper, zinc, phosphorus and manganese, as well as cobalt, nickel, antimony, arsenic, lead, selenium, mercury, and cadmium. Click here for report. While the full effects of the tailings spill on water quality will await the results of an independent review, there remains concern that the sediment and suspended silt will cause serious harm to the fish population.]

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