UPDATED: Mining company president says tailings pond has never failed before

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UPDATED: Mining company president says tailings pond has never failed before

The president of Imperial Metals, the company whose tailings pond broke yesterday morning southeast of Quesnel, releasing about 15 million cubic metres of wastewater, has apologized for the incident and is working to figure out how it happened.

When asked if he would drink the water, which residents have been banned from using, Brian Kynoch had this to say:

“Yes, I would drink the water, but it’s of no consequence — I would drink the water once the solids come out.”

Kynoch says the tailings pond at the Mount Polley gold and copper mine has never failed before.

“It wasn’t at the tallest, highest part of the damn, which — that’s where the most pressure is. So it’s a bit of an anomaly to me, where it occurred. I don’t know, and it’ll be a lot of investigation before we do have any answers to that.”

Water samples have been sent for analysis.

Carol Martina from New Westminster has spent her summers in the town of Likely for years.

But now, she says, with a total water ban in place, Quesnel Lake is like she’s never seen it before.

“There’s really no activity on the lake. Normally there would be some boats and you’d hear children playing and laughter and it’s just very quiet — it’s eerily quiet. It looks very pretty but it’s just totally quiet. No fishing boats. No kids. It’s odd. We’ve been advised not to go in the water so there’s no water activity so this also adds to the kind of eeriness of it all.”

She says the community is trying to pull together.

“There’s lots of phone calls back and forth between neighbours. I mean yesterday neighbours were helping everybody pull their boats out and so it was a real sense of community tying their docks down, that kinds of thing, lots of communication back and forth.”

The water that broke free flowed into Polley Lake and Hazeltine Creek, as well as the Quesnel and Cariboo river system, up to the Fraser River.

Mines Minister Bill Bennett says he’s not aware of any safety or environmental compliance issues with Imperial Metals.

“There was one concern reported from a  few months ago that the water in one part of the pond was higher than is regulated. The company immediately got the water levels down.”

He says that happened in a different part of the pond than yesterday’s breach, and officials don’t know if they’re related.

Photo credit to: Global News



  1. Here’s the problem when disasters happen , the companies have no response plan or public notices.
    These tailing ponds rarely fail but they do and it has happened with devastating results of which we won’t know the extent of for a long time.
    Oil tankers don’t run on the rocks often but it happens and Enbridge has no plan on how to deal with it so multiply this tailing pond spill by probably a thousand with no way of cleaning it up and tell me it’s still a good thing to sell China cheap oil.

  2. Well it sounds like poor management, poor engineering and poor attempts to coverup are underway.

    I hope the company gets shut down and I hope there is jail time for those who are negligent.

    And its not “Tailings” its toxic heavy metals suspended in water rushing downstream. Fish will die. Animals will die. Animals that eat those animals will die. Quesnel is likely a dead town now with no water source for years. And the Fraser River sockeye run is about to run into toxic water.

    Jail time. Please.

  3. With no intention of defending the company, but they applied for permits to deal with the recognized risks at this facility. They also have an active action plan. That is required by law.

    As is typical with our political processes in our country, their permits are still in consideration. Whoops! To late!!!

    This company attempted to do what needed to be done. They hired consultants and did their homework in an attempt to mitigate the risks but the governing agencies in their typical foot dragging way have a HUGE responsibility in this incident.

    Everyone really needs to look at this and place the blame where it belongs. I suspect that our governments need to be put under the microscope for this one.

    The real potential tragedy here is the salmon runs that are just now heading into the Fraser River. This will take centuries, if not thousands of years to go away.

    • The one issue though that confounds me is how geo engineers could not properly evaluate the risks. That is the point where the pond failed. Earthen dams are notorious to failure, not much different than rock or mud slides from mountains. Earth takes only so much moisture and pressure before they break. The company as you say did their thing with consultants etc., but it takes well experienced and trained engineers to design and recommend stuff. The event just should not have occurred with proper safe guards along with over engineering in place.

  4. This is what other say!
    Just looked at the weather network and an add from the Liberals came up begging for $20.17 the date of the next election.
    Lots of BS about no new taxes, nothing about draining ICBC/Hydro/User Fees, no word about the $100 billion in new hidden debt for Bridges/Hospitals/Hydro Dams etc. LNG and the 75% price drop, and all the great Canadian jobs for TFW’s…more BS, nothing for seniors, nothing to end child poverty, nothing for the disabled, Nothing about todays Natural Disaster tailings pond, caused by greed and cut backs on policing the rich internationals business practices.
    Yes fear a $20. NDP tax increase, Run, Hide, the Sky is Falling!!!!
    Sorry we can no longer run our governments on Credit Cards, we must pay our bills, or go into foreclosure.