Two and a half years after a tailings pond breach sent millions of cubic meters of contaminated waste-water into Quesnel Lake, the Mount Polley mine has a new permit to discharge effluent into the body of water.
The province says the temporary permit, granted March 11th, was needed after heavy rains overwhelmed the mine’s new waste water treatment plant.
But Likely resident Craig Ritson isn’t pleased. He says the lake is already struggling with elevated copper levels, which he worries will cause long-term damage to the salmon population, confusing their ability to return and spawn.
He says locals had lobbied to have the water directed directly into the Quesnel river, giving the lake a rest, but were ignored.
“It’s frustrating. It’s the same thing that’s been going on since the day it happened. People ask your opinion, you give an opinion, and nobody seems to listen to it.”
“You know they just look at us up here, and they figure okay there’s only 300 people, it’s not going to affect any kind of vote anywhere. They look at us and think we’re just a bunch of local yokels.”
The province says both the amount and quality of water being discharged is being strictly regulated, and meet guidelines for both drinking water and aquatic life.
It says weekly sampling continues to occur, and that the decision to issue the permit was made by an independent third party.