Residents say Mines Minister should resign if Mount Polley probe finds lack of provincial oversight

Vancouver, BC, Canada / (CKNW AM) AM980

Residents living near the Mount Polley tailings bond breach say BC’s Minister of Energy and Mines should resign if an “independent” review finds a lack of provincial oversight is at all to blame for the disaster.

Peggy Zorn runs an Eco Tours company in Likely and says Minister Bill Bennett must take responsibility.

“It’s their job to make sure people are kept safe but especially the Minister of Mines, obviously he didn’t do his job to keep people safe if that is how it all plays out.”

Owner of Northern Lights Lodge Skeed Borkowski says residents near the Mount Polley mine are questioning if a three-person panel mandated to investigate the tailings breach disaster is truly independent.

“A concern I think we all have is how independent will it really be. I mean it should be absolutely hands off from government, arms length, they should not be involved in any way what so ever.”

He adds “someone in the Ministry is responsible for the inspections for the follow up and it should always go to the top.”

An independent investigation will examine what caused the collapse of a huge tailings pond at an Imperial Metals copper and gold mine near the Cariboo community of Likely.

Mines Minister Bill Bennett announced the probe today, saying the engineering investigation and inquiry has until January 31st to submit final recommendations about the incident that sent millions of litres of mine tailings gushing into creeks, rivers and lakes surrounding the mine

Recommendations from the report will be shared with the Soda Creek and Williams Lake Indian bands and implemented by the province, as needed, to ensure a similar collapse does not occur again.

Bennett says the chief inspector of mines has also ordered all mining operations across BC to conduct a safety inspection of their tailings storage facilities and report the findings by December 1st

Comments

  1. As I noted on previous article:

    Perhaps this will open some people’s eyes and show what really is going on. Yes, there needs to be independent investigation by outside engineers, biologists and scientific community, but this sure shows us here in the big city just a small picture of a GREAT BIG PROBLEM that needs to be dealt with and that the government and mining company need to be RESPONSIBLE FOR! Read and see with your own eyes …

    http://alexandramorton.typepad.com/

  2. Bennett should resign, Polak should resign and Clark should resign. Three complete incompetents.

    Most likely the “government” relaxed the inspections on tailings pond inspections for the entire industry over that last ten years. The tailings pond at this site was way to large. 4 square kms I read and probably 50-100 feet deep if not deeper. It should never have been allowed to get that large. I am sure the independent investigation will reveal government involvement. They should all go to jail!

    Bennett comparing this disaster to an avalanche proves that he is incompetent and does not have the intelligence to hold a position of minister.

    And as when the political heat gets turned up, typically Clark is nowhere to be found – hiding under a rock no doubt.

  3. Some Likely residents, who are demanding that Bill Bennett resign if his ministry did not provide adequate oversight-through negilence or otherwise-on the Mount Polley tailings-pond dam design, construction and on-going maintenance, may well be dissappointed. The Independent Panel apparently does not possess the expertise to investigate government regulatory policy, procedures and enforcement effectiveness. Therefore, it is not surprising that Bill Bennett has promised to resign if his ministry is cleared of any omissions of duty. which he.himself, confidently asserts that the government will not be found at fault.

    To up the ante Bill Bennett might consider to temporarily step aside now pending the findings of the investigations. While Bill Bennett continues to be the lead person in carrying out the investigation, there remains the real public perception of a conflict of interest on his part. The panel that he appointed has the task of investigating the boss. Moreover, in addition to the technical aspects, the matter of over a million dollars in political donations continues to fester lngering doubts about how much fault will be assigned to the mine owners.

    While my perspectives may be deemed highly speculative, they are no more speculative and leading than comments from the minister that mine tailing-pond breaches are no worse than natural landslides and that the government will not be found to be at fault.

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