Mine sought second water release increase

Mount Polley Mine was awaiting a second permit amendment from the B.C. government to increase water release

Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett

Mount Polley Mine management was awaiting a second permit amendment from the B.C. government to increase water released from its tailings facilities when the tailings pond dam breached in the early hours of Aug. 4.

Ministry of Environment records show the mine has had an effluent permit since 1997, and has operated since startup with a water surplus due to precipitation. In 2009 the company applied to amend the permit to allow discharge of up to 1.4 million cubic meters of water a year to discharge dam seepage effluent into Hazeltine Creek.

That permit was approved in 2012 after an independent report was commissioned to examine water quality impacts from sediment and contaminants, and measures needed to control them.

With the mine and its tailings facilities expanding and an exhausted pit being converted to underground mining, Mount Polley applied for another amendment to discharge up to three million cubic meters of treated water to Polley Lake.

“That application was received by the ministry this summer and is being considered,” the Ministry of Environment said in a statement Wednesday.

Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett said Mount Polley mine does not have acid-producing rock, which reacts with contaminants such as arsenic and mercury and allows them to mix with water. Bennett was on site this week with mine inspectors and environment ministry staff.

“We will find out if the company was not in compliance,” Bennett said Wednesday. “If they were hiding anything, if they made mistakes in building the dam higher, we will find out and hold them to account.”

Brian Kynoch, president of parent company Imperial Metals, was asked about the latest permit amendment at a public meeting in Likely Tuesday, where residents were shocked at the devastation and worried about the water quality in their lakes and rivers.

“I think we’re about to get the increase,” Kynoch said.

Kynoch said the breach did not occur at the highest point of the tailings dam, where water pressure was greatest, and the pond level was 2.5 metres below the top of the dam at the time.

Ministry records show Mount Polley was warned about high pond levels May 24, with the level returning to authorized levels by June 30. In April the company was issued an advisory about bypass of authorized treatment works due to high water flows in the spring runoff period.

Samples of tailings pond water taken Aug. 4 showed selenium concentration 2.8 times the drinking water guideline. Concentration of nitrates, cadmium, copper, iron and selenium have occasionally exceeded aquatic life guidelines in recent years. The permit required water volume not to exceed 35 per cent of the creek flow to dilute it.

 

Just Posted

Latimer surveyed much of Summerland

Civil engineer was also responsible of community’s irrigation system

RDOS to study sites for composting facility

Penticton and Okanagan Falls landfills will be examined

Summerland grocery store offers warm atmosphere, community service

Nesters Market has been involved in numerous initiatives within Summerland

Codling moths remain a problem for Okanagan apple growers

Problem areas for pest include Summerland, Penticton and Naramata

Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen works to control mosquito populations

Control efforts in the region have been starting earlier each year

VIDEO: A moment to remember during the World Lacrosse Men’s Indoor Championship in B.C.

Diego Hernandez Valenzuela’s team lost, but he felt like a winner Saturday

Okanagan and Shuswap blossom at Communities in Bloom awards

District of Sicamous, City of Armstrong double winners at B.C. awards gala; Lumby also a winner

B.C. Lions hype-man marks 15 years of cheers

Crazy P cheers, chants, bangs his drum and spreads a message of love

Internet speed testing implemented in the CSRD

Test results will be tracked to find areas where improvement is needed.

Former South Okanagan resident found dead in Alberta

Candace Deleeuw was reported missing Sept. 16

PHOTOS: Steller sea lion with plastic around neck rescued on Vancouver Island

Rescue staff determined the plastic band cut the protected animal’s neck approximately two inches

B.C. VIEWS: School officials join fact-free ‘climate strike’

Students, public get distorted picture of greenhouse gases

Caught on Camera: Boat catches fire at Okanagan marina

The cause of the fire is unknown at this time, no injuries were reported as a result of the blaze

Handgun crackdown, health spending and transit plans latest campaign promises

Friday was the end of a busy week on the campaign trail

Most Read