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Mount Polley breach: Economic benefit cannot outweigh all the damage

Editor: 

Thank-you for your newspaper’s excellent coverage of the Mount Polley tailings-pond disaster in the Thursday, Aug. 7 edition.

Your editorial (How many warnings until action is taken?) aptly summarizes the view of so many citizens that there are fundamental flaws in the approval and oversight of mining activity in British Columbia, and it further supports the urgency of making meaningful changes to the Mineral Tenure Act.

Katie Welch’s powerful letter to the editor (Mount Polley tailings-pond disaster inexcusable) places the disaster in the bigger picture and emphasizes the need for humans to change their way of thinking about (and behaving toward) the environment.

Tk’emlups Indian Band Chief Shane Gottfriedson’s commentary describes how the current approval and oversight process is flawed on multiple levels and calls for a moratorium on mining development.

John Schleiermacher from the Kamloops Area Preservation Association raises important questions about KGHM’s proposed Ajax mine’s plans for a tailings pond.

All this is in sharp contrast with the provincial government’s response.

Quite predictably, Minister of Health and Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Terry Lake (former minister of environment) suggests the possibility the breach was not foreseeable, that it was totally unexpected and could not have been prevented.

His comments, like those of Mines Minister Bill Bennett, create a nice soft landing for Mount Polley mine owner Imperial Metals and minimize the provincial government’s inability and/or unwillingness to protect its citizens from the negligent and reckless behaviour of some mining companies.

If a disaster of this proportion was really not preventable, then perhaps all mining activity should stop immediately and permanently.

No amount of economic benefit can outweigh the catastrophic impact of these so-called accidents.

Andrew Bezooyen

Kamloops

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2 comments

  1. Thanks for the excellent eye-opening letter Andrew!

  2. This is an issue of Strict Liability. Holding back tailings makes the mine and its employees legally responsible for damages, or injury, even if the person found strictly liable was not at fault or negligent or if as Mr. Lake says this was not foreseeable which is bunk on Lake’s part. Neutering cats is your specialty so stay with what you know. The mine I am sure has insurance against this, but guess what next time you pay your house insurance and realize its gone up 15% its because you are paying for this min negligence.

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