Private prosecution launched over 2014 collapse of the Mount Polley dam

FILE PHOTO - Contents from a tailings pond is pictured going down the Hazeltine Creek into Quesnel Lake near the town of Likely, B.C. on August, 5, 2014.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

WILLIAMS LAKE, B.C. - An advocacy group has launched a private prosecution under the Fisheries Act against the B.C. government and a mining company over the disastrous consequences of the collapse of the Mount Polley tailings dam.

The legal action by MiningWatch Canada says the dam released a torrent of mine waste in B.C.'s Cariboo region, creating a new valley and permanently altering or destroying fish habitat, affecting 20 different fish species.

MiningWatch says in a news release that it has launched the prosecution now because more than two years after the spill, the Crown hasn't brought charges under the Fisheries Act.

The charges allege the province and the Mount Polley Mining Corp. violated the act that prohibits serious harm to fish and forbids the deposit of deleterious substances into fish-bearing waters.

None of the allegations have been proven in court and neither the provincial government nor Mount Polley Mining could be immediately reached for comment.

A letter from the Department of Fisheries mailed recently to a lawyer for MiningWatch says investigators from three agencies are still examining evidence and potential charges will go to the Public Prosecution Service of Canada for consideration.

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