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Social media queries on Ajax following Mount Polley mine incident

The Mt. Polley tailings pond failure from above. For scale, note the highway top left.
August 07, 2014 - 6:27 PM

KAMLOOPS – The announcement of Mount Polley’s mine tailings pond flood has raised concerns for residents of the Thompson-Okanagan leading to opinions from both supporters and those opposing the proposed Ajax Mine.

The dam at Mount Polley Mining Corporation’s site near Likely, B.C. failed on Monday sending 10 million cubic metres of water and 4.5 million cubic metres of potentially toxic silt into Polley Lake and Quesnel Lake.

“This is a very serious incident that we and everyone in the mining industry will watch closely,” an administrator from KGHM posted on the Ajax mining Facebook page.

“The reasons why this happened are important.... From what we can tell from a preliminary review of the Mount Polley dam, the proposed Ajax Project tailings storage facility dam will be much different,” the posting says.

Engineers from KGHM plan to develop a “downstream rock fill” underneath the embankment to stabilize it. The posting says the company will take every precaution to ensure its long-term stability.

KGHM's Facebook posting has since been edited to remove the statement which said “Properly designed and monitored tailings dams do not fail” — a point which Stop Ajax Mine's Facebook page seized upon.

“Clearly that's misleading, unless they're accusing Imperial Metals of not designing their dam well enough, or maybe they're implying that it wasn't monitored well enough by the BC EAO?" said the opposition page's administrator.

"Or maybe they're just trying to use this example of a mine that had a horrible accident to mislead us into thinking that it could never happen here.”

The result of the flood and its potential long-term environmental damage has also engaged several First Nations groups.

“This is not just about Aboriginal interests,” said Okanagan Indian Band Chief Byron Louis, “A tailings pond that eventually flows into the Fraser River, a system that supports the largest fishery in the Pacific Northwest is not prudent resource management. It is a direct threat to an aquatic ecosystem and to all those that depend on its bounty for their health, wealth and well-being.”

On Wednesday, the B.C. government formally ordered Imperial Metals to clean the site and prevent more material from escaping. A drinking and water-use ban is still in effect for Quesnel and Cariboo rivers. At a tense community meeting in Likely on Tuesday afternoon the President of Imperial Metals said the water is "very close to drinking water quality."

Results of the water tested for several contaminants including mercury and arsenic have not been released, yet Premier Christy Clark hinted to good news after calling the results “promising.”

An announcement of the water testing outcome will be made at a community meeting in Likely Thursday afternoon.

Below are some other opinions on social media regarding the Mount Polley flooding:

--With files from Canadian Press

To contact a reporter for this story, email, or call 250-319-7494. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

News from © iNFOnews, 2014

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