Mount Polley mine disaster hits 2-year mark, fallout still causes divisions

VICTORIA – It’s been almost two years since millions of cubic metres of mining waste gushed from a tailings pond into rivers, lakes and streams at the Mount Polley mine in British Columbia’s Interior.

The provincial government says it has implemented tough new regulatory standards to prevent a similar disaster, while environmental groups say more protections are needed and local residents say they just want their pristine lake back.

Mines Minister Bill Bennett says the province has implemented world-leading regulatory mining standards, but concedes it will take time for residents to get comfortable and confident with the protections.

The Sierra Club of B.C. is releasing a report that concludes recent B.C. mining code changes do not go far enough to implement recommendations to ensure the stability of tailings dams at mines.

At the tiny community of Likely near the disaster site, people are now fishing in Quesnel Lake and life is returning to normal since tailings facility collapse on Aug. 4, 2014.

However, Lisa Kraus with the Likely Chamber of Commerce, says the mine collapse has caused deep divisions among residents who want the mine to continue operating but not to threaten their health and safety.