NEWS/ MOUNT POLLEY — Fish has been deemed safe for eating in some areas around the contamination spill from the Mount Polley Mine.
The Interior Health Authority today (Tuesday) said fish should still not be eaten from Polley Lake, Hazeltine Creek and a small part of Quesnel Lake but otherwise it’s safe. The water use ban remains in effect for those waterways but is rescinded elsewhere.
There has been widespread concern about the impact of the tailings pond waste on fish in the waterways near the mine.
“I have consulted with numerous experts in this field, and I am reassured that the current fish living in these waterways, and those that may travel through it via the Fraser River or spawn in it are safe to consume,” said IHA medical health officer Dr. Trevor Corneil.
The Ministry of Environment will continue to conduct tissue sampling of several fish species. It said only one dead fish, a rainbow trout, has been reported.
Water samples from the southeast corner of Polley Lake done last Thursday and Friday have tested as being “very close to historical levels,” the Environment Ministry said.
Cariboo Regional District chair Al richmond said he was “pleased” at the results.
Excerpts from the provincial government’s update on the Mount Polley tailings pond situation released earlier today (Tuesday):
The Ministry of Environment received water samples from Polley Lake late last night and have shared them with Interior Health (IH). The health authority is reviewing them closely and is expected to provide an update on water quality and the water advisory in place later today.
The Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association will highlight the tourism stories of the region in meetings with international travel media next week at the GoMedia Marketplace in Winnipeg. Hosted by the Canadian Tourism Commission, this is the largest annual travel media event in Canada where over 100 Canadian tourism marketers and businesses meet with over 300 international media who focus on travel.
The flow out of the breach has decreased dramatically, but has not completely stopped. Imperial Metals has begun building a temporary dike to stop flow out of the pond.
Imperial Metals is also now pumping water out of Polley Lake both down Hazeltine Creek into Quesnel Lake and back into Wight and Springer Pits, two open pits on the mine. By controlling this water release as soon as possible, it will significantly lower the potential risk of another breach.
An uncontrolled release of the stored water in Polley Lake could cause additional risks to human health and a further delay in possible rescinding of the drinking water advisory currently in place.
Until further notice, the water quality advisory remains in place for communities that get their water from Polley Lake, Hazeltine Creek, Cariboo Creek and all parts of Quesnel Lake, as well as the Quesnel River south of 6236 Cedar Creek Road.
Imperial Metals has completed constructing a discharge pipe to Hazeltine Creek downstream from the tailings blockage and is now pumping water from Polley Lake. The pumps are operating at their capacity, pumping approximately 8,000 gallons per minute.
The water will then flow downstream into Quesnel Lake where it will be tested daily. Once the water level is reduced to a safe level, technicians will commence water and sediment sampling in Hazeltine Creek.
Work continues on dike construction at the tailings pond breach. The dike is being built in a horseshoe shape just on the inside of the breach to stabilize the tailings material and keep it inside the impoundment when it rains. The company estimates that it will take about three weeks to complete.
Three hundred Imperial Metals employees are working on the dike construction and clean up.