Forever is a long time - Kamloops This Week

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Home / Opinion / Letters / Forever is a long time

Forever is a long time

Is it a reasonable and sane proposition to construct a huge hole right above our fair city of 90,000 souls and fill it full of poison?
The hole will be filled with billions of litres of water and sediment full of arsenic and other toxic heavy metals.
The hole would have to be built to ensure the poison would never surge downhill into Peterson Creek, then through the centre of our city and into the Thompson River.
Forever is a very long time.
The Mount Polley mine was opened in 1997. The tailing pond at that mine has been holding back its poison for 17 years— until a few days ago.
It is plain to see this has caused an environmental disaster in a sparsely populated area.
The Ajax spokesmen reassure us tailing ponds “if properly designed, constructed and maintained, don’t fail.”
Does this mean they won’t fail forever?
Does this mean we, our children and their children’s children are going to be safe from a similar disaster forever?
Our local provincial politicians will tell you this is a matter for ongoing study.
What does common sense dictate? Is anyone truly comforted by these words?
Are you?
Are we willing to subject ourselves, our descendents, our land and our waters to such risk?
R. William Stinson

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  1. The site of the KGHM-Ajax tailings area is situated where there will be no containments that will have stress on them. No Dam, no breach.

    • My understanding Richard is that there will be an impoundment, at a height of 139 m at completion. This would make it the 4th largest dam in BC after 3 Hydro dams. A 139 m high dam above Peterson Creek would likely receive an “Extreme” risk classification. (BC Dam Failure Consequences Classification Conversion Table)

    • Willow Ranch is correct, and Richard Selkirk is wrong. There will be differences between Mount Polley and Ajax, yes, but there will indeed be stress on the containments (tailings sludge) at Ajax; the fourth wall of the Ajax impoundment is essentially a dam (as pointed out by Willow Ranch). That the KTW published Richard’s comment in its print version is highly disturbing, and warrants a retraction or clarification.

  2. We cannot forget that the proposed Ajax Tailings Pond will be “3” times larger than the one that just breached at Mt Polley. It is much closer to a community, a community of 90,000 people not just 300 that live in likely. After KGHM makes it profits and leaves to dig for minerals elsewhere, we will be stuck with that toxic mess and risk of a breach forever. Mt Polley was “Too Close”. Ajax is “Much Too Big and Much Too Close.”

    • Is it possible to reclaim a tailings pond? I have heard different responses to my question. The tailings site does not have to exist as a toxic dump forever, does it? When is reclamation used?

      • Please correct me if I am wrong, but most of the pollutants never degrade and have to be monitored “in perpetuity” though they can eventually be superficially reclaimed. This is very difficult, however, especially in our climate. Check out the dried out, unvegetated tailings from the old Ajax pit where very little is growing after twenty years.

        • There has never been much growing at the Ajax Pits sites.

          • What are you talking about? The old Ajax pit was in grasslands – it is also not adequately reclaimed, however. The tailings pond I was referring to is over by Afton.

            Bunch grass appears to grow just fine up there, just not on tailings.

      • Reclamation of toxic dump sites has been successfully accomplished in Kamloops many years ago. These sites include Riverside Park and McAurthur Island Park.

        • Pretty misleading, Richard.

        • Take a look at the old Afton Mine tailings pond next to Newgold and you will see what a talilings pond looks like after 17 years since closure. Please go on a dry windy day and don’t forget to take a surgical mask. Afton made its profits and left a mess that will never clean up or be any use to man or wildlife.


    I never thought the Mount Polley tailings dam breach would be equated to one of many avalanches that happen in BC every year. What an amazing interpretation………..

    • It (that comment) goes to show the stupidity that permeates through the various ministerial offices in Victoria.
      However, major shareholders “dig” that stupidity very much.

  4. Mr Stinson, where should the hole in the earth go? Do you suggest that somehow by stopping the Ajax mine that the world demand for copper will decrease by that amount?

    No, it won’t. The mine will go in someone else’s backyard. Are you okay with that? Is it the 90,000 number that gives you (not us) the right to send it to a smaller community. Are you okay if Greater Vancouver suggests Kamloops as a better site for a toxic waste dump rather than their own backyard? Is that what your group learned from Mt. Polley, pick the location for your environmental disasters carefully.

    What exactly is it that you believe you are doing for the environment by moving the mine? There is environment outside of Aberdeen you know. No gain by moving it. In fact, some would argue that proximity to workforce and major market/port make Kamloops a better environmental choice than a remote northern location. There is a net benefit to the environment in that case.

    Alternately, you could stop with the hypocrisy and help reduce the global demand for copper by stripping it out of your house, car, cottage, boat… and recycling it. Boycott it’s use. Unless you reduce global demand, you are doing nothing. And every bit that bring into your life supports it.

    The application and assessment process addresses all the legitimate concerns. In addition it provides a measure of equality for the citizens of this country. All applications are judged the same way and adjusted for the unique situations that each brings. If it does not pass that, it should not go. No need for you and your group. If it does pass still no need for your group. You are not entitled to any special concession.

    And, you do not speak for this city. Your group represents two tenths of one percent, that’s 00.2%. You are not the voice of Kamloops. My Kamloops has a social conscience. It cares about the citizens of the world. It believes that tailings ponds should not leak into anyone’s backyard and if we can’t figure out how to do that than we must close all the mines. Your group should be ashamed of what you’re doing, especially with the deceit and half truths your campaign has resorted to in order try to keep this out of your backyard.

    I don’t really care whether the mine makes it or not. But I am very concerned about the moral and ethical blight in my neighbourhood.

    • Steve;
      Please stop posting irrational comments. Resource development needs a total re-thinking. This government (of people like you) is not honest nor ethical about it. The Mount Polley episode is more than enough evidence of that. Your posturing about others’ hypocrisy is nothing sort of a childish rant. Your statistics have no bases in reality and you have no business in telling others what do do, think or fight about.

      • “Your statistics have no bases in reality and you have no business in telling others what do do, think or fight about. ”

        But you do Lyman?

        Nothing quite like the irrationality of social justice and equality is there?

        • Steve prior to this government (Conservative Liberal clones) cannibalization of the regulations we had some 85 engineers and safety officers in the mining industry now we have four. They have turned over government regulation to SELF REGULATION. One has to be an idiot to think self monitoring is effective. The last two weeks production at every mine in BC has gone down by 40% as the work force has been put to work doing shoring of the tailing ponds.

          • Yes, I don’t disagree that the monitoring and enforcement needs overhaul. This Mt Polley thing should never have happened and should never happen anywhere.

            However, none of that has anything to do with the Ajax mine being here.

  5. From reading the news my understanding is that they were going to pile their tailings until the KAPA people compained at the possible dust which caused them to switch to a pond and wet tailings. Make up your mind. They dry would actually be much better as they aren’t going anywhere.


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