B.C. privacy report finds no significant Mount Polley risks prior to disaster

The tailings pond dike breach near the town at the Polley Mountain mine site in B.C. is pictured Tuesday August, 5, 2014.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

VICTORIA - British Columbia's privacy commissioner says the province did not violate its duty to inform the public before last summer's tailings-pond breach at a gold and copper mine.

Elizabeth Denham says information the government had about the Mount Polley mine before the disaster was not urgent enough to require a public safety warning under the province's freedom of information and privacy laws.

Denham says she reviewed records dating from January 2009 to August 2014 and did not find anything indicating major risks at the mine in central B.C.

She says she uncovered two incidents involving a tension crack and water rising above permitted tailings-pond levels, but they did not pose a significant-enough risk.

Last January, an independent government-ordered report concluded that poor dam design caused the spill of 24 million cubic metres of silt and water into nearby lakes and rivers.

Mines Minister Bill Bennett says a decision on reopening the Mount Polley mine is expected this month.


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