(Vancouver, BC) – The BC Métis Federation is releasing a statement in light of the environmental disaster unfolding with the Imperial Metal Mines near Likely, BC which is located in central British Columbia. The mine is also located near Quesnel where, in addition to First Nations and non Aboriginal residents, there is a large Métis community, many who also harvest traditionally on the land.
The Imperial Metal Mine’s tailings pond breached this week on Monday which released over 1.3 million cubic meters of waste water. The significant waste water compares to approximately 2000 olympic sized swimming pools. The tailings pond held significant waste water from the mine which was tested in 2013 and measured levels of arsenic, lead, and mercury. The mine’s President Mr. Brian Kynoch released a statement of apology this week following the incident and suggests the water is close to drinking quality.
BC Metis Federation President Keith Henry stated, “This environmental disaster is why Métis communities and families need to fully understand industry projects and their environmental and safety considerations. There are Métis organizations who continue to only focus on jobs and benefits without support from grassroots Métis people. These are important but as we see time and time again, industry will make mistakes and w must ensure the interests of Métis also force industry and government to maintain high levels of standards. Consider what continues to unfold in Kelly Lake where many Métis people continue to have industry encroach on their homes, land, way of life, etc. Governments continue to ignore demands to address their concerns and it appears industry has unprecedented access all in the name of the economy which never really directly supports Métis families.”
BC Métis Federation President Henry added, “We extend our support to the Métis families in the Quesnel area and to all residents affected. It appears the dismantling of environmental standards within the Provincial and Federal Government processes continues to contribute to increase risks of public safety and environmental risks.”
BC Métis Federation President Henry concluded, “This situation continues to be investigated and we all hope there is no major damage to the drinking water, salmon stocks, and wildlife in these once known pristine waterways. This is unacceptable and BC Métis Federation urges government to disclose the full systemic breakdown.”
The tailings pond breached early on Monday morning, prompting the Cariboo Regional District to issue a strict water ban for the Quesnel Lake, Cariboo Creek, Hazeltine Creek, and Polly Lake areas. It was expanded to include the entire Quesnel and Cariboo River systems right to the Fraser River. The Regional District advised against humans or livestock drinking the water and swimming and other activities are at your own risk.
BC Métis Federation
Vancouver, BC V5R 5W2
You can now follow BC Métis Federation President Keith Henry on twitter @keithhenryMetis
[ilink url=”http://bcmetis.com/wp-content/uploads/BCMF-Press-Release-August-7th-2014-Polley-Mine-Breach.pdf” style=”download”]Click here to download press release as a PDF.[/ilink]