The BC Government must do the right thing: pull the pipes from Quesnel Lake
Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) commissioner Gay McDougall, Nuskmata Mack, June McCue, Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, and Chief Don Tom, June 2019, xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) ©Amnesty International Canada
“Addressing the harms caused by the Mount Polley mine disaster is a small part of what the Province must do to safeguard the collective rights of Indigenous peoples to our lands and cultures,” Bev Sellars, acclaimed author and former Chief of the Xats’ull Indian Band.
On November 27th, the BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy will host a public consultation in the community of Likely, BC, to provide an update on issues related to the Mount Polley copper mine and the 2014 tailings dam disaster. The disaster has had long-term consequences for those who rely on Quesnel Lake – or Yuct Ne Senixymetkwe in the Secwepemc language – for food, livelihoods and cultural practices.
Indigenous peoples and area residents are calling on the province and Imperial Metals to pull the pipes from Quesnel Lake. The Concerned Citizens of Quesnel Lake (CCQL) are urging Amnesty activists to support the call to protect Quesnel Lake from further industrial contamination.
Please let the BC government and those responsible for Mount Polley know that it’s time to live up to their obligations to protect Indigenous rights, support communities and safeguard the environment.
Send a polite email or make a phone call, using your own words or points from below, to Carol Danyluk, Manager of Environmental Protection and Resource Management, at the Ministry of Environment (contact info below) urging the BC government to:
- Respect the wishes of area residents and Indigenous peoples and revoke Mount Polley Mining Corporation’s (MPMC) water discharge permit and remove the discharge pipes from Quesnel Lake
- Point out that effective remedy includes stopping actions that cause harm, such as the ongoing release of mine wastewater into Quesnel Lake.
- Urge the government to ensure no further harm is done to Quesnel Lake while the discharge permit is being challenged by the CCQL in BC’s Environmental Appeal Court.
- Compel Imperial Metals and its subsidiary, Mount Polley Mining Corporation, to install best available technologies to treat wastewater at the site and choose a more suitable location for effluent discharge.
- Monitor and publicly report on the health of Quesnel Lake
- Ensure that MPMC posts a full financial surety bond for remediation and ongoing water treatment at the Mount Polley mine site.
If possible, please send an email or call before 5pm on November 27 to:
Carol Danyluk, P.Eng.
Section Head, Mining Operations
Regional Operations Branch
Environmental Protection Division, Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy
With copies to:
Hon. George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategies
Room 112 Parliament Buildings
Victoria, BC V8V 1X4
Hon. Michelle Mungall, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources
Room 301 Parliament Buildings
Victoria, BC V8V 1X4
Your emails will still be critically important after November 27, so please write even if you miss this deadline.
If you would like to do more:
If you use Twitter, please send a message to Minister Heyman. Use these sample tweets below.
- Pipe Up to get the Pipe Out: Time for @georgeheyman to stop permitting #MtPolley to pollute Quesnel Lake. #mining #bcpoli @CCQL
- Pipes Out of #QuesnelLake: @bcndp its time to stop permitting #MtPolley pollution of #cleanwater & to respect right to a healthy environment #mining #bcpoli @CCQL
The 2014 Mount Polley mine disaster in British Columbia’s Cariboo region, also known as Secwepemeculecw, was a devastating reminder of what can go wrong when governments fail to suitably regulate companies. The copper mine’s tailings pond collapse led to the destruction of Hazeltine Creek – a fish-bearing creek – and contamination of the western basin of Quesnel Lake. Remediation efforts did not remove toxic tailings sediment from the lake, leading locals to fear for their health and that of the fish and aquatic life in the lake. Scientists at the University of Northern British Columbia have reported on changes to the wester basin waters since the disaster.
In 2017, to compound matters and frustrate locals who opposed it, the province issued the company a permit to pipe untreated, filtered mine wastewater into Quesnel Lake until 2022. Residents and Indigenous peoples have been fighting to have the discharge pipes removed from Quesnel Lake and for the Province to compel the company to implement on-site wastewater treatment.
Video created by Dogwood for the Concerned Citizens of Quesnel Lake, 2019
Two United Nations bodies, the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights and the Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, have since highlighted the Mount Polley mine disaster and called on Canada to bring those responsible for the disaster to justice and provide remedy to those who were harmed.
Shockingly, despite these recommendations and a criminal investigation lasting four years, the government of Canada has not taken legal action.
To learn more about the human rights impacts of the 2014 Mount Polley mine disaster on Yuct Ne Senixymetkwe or Quesnel Lake and area residents, please go to: www.amnesty.ca/mountpolley