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.
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