Seven Years after Mount Polley Disaster, Mine Waste Still Flows into Quesnel Lake

The Tyee

A ‘temporary’ permit allows wastewater to be dumped in the water. That may not change anytime soon.

Amanda Follett Hosgood |

Amanda Follett Hosgood is The Tyee’s northern B.C. reporter. She lives in Wet’suwet’en territory. Find her on Twitter @amandajfollett


The view from Quesnel Lake toward Mount Polley Mine’s tailings pond shows the scarred landscape following a breach of the mine’s tailings dam on Aug. 4, 2014, that deposited nearly 25 million cubic metres of mine waste into the lake. Seven years later, the mine continues to deposit effluent into the lake via a pipeline. Photo courtesy of Dogwood. 


Doug Watt was sleeping the night the Mount Polley mine’s tailings dam released, dumping its contents into Hazeltine Creek, which flows into the west arm of Quesnel Lake near his home in Likely, B.C.

It was the early morning of Aug. 4, 2014, and Watt, who lives about seven kilometres from the mine site, says he wasn’t aware of the breach until a 6:30 a.m. call from the local fire and rescue service woke him. The first thing he noticed was the sound.

“It was quite a shock,” he says. “We went outside, and you could hear it down the lake. It sounded like a distant Niagara Falls.”

The gold and copper mine deposited nearly 25 million cubic metres of mine waste into the Fraser watershed that day — roughly equal to the volume of water flowing over Niagara Falls every two-and-a-half hours. It left a toxic slurry that remains on the lakebed today. Data showed the lake rose several inches overnight, Watt says. 

Seven years later, mine waste continues to flow from Mount Polley into Quesnel Lake under a permit issued by the B.C. government.

Read the full article at