B.C. First Nations urge province not to cherry-pick from mine report advice – by Geordon Omand (Canadian Press/CTV News – February 4, 2015)


First Nations leaders are urging the B.C. government to adopt each of the seven recommendations laid out in a review of the Mount Polley mine disaster.

First Nations Summit Grand Chief Ed John said the resulting “massive breach of public confidence” means the province cannot afford to cherry-pick from the conclusions of a report into a tailings dam failure in the province’s Interior.

“I think when you mix water and tailings it’s a recipe for disaster,” John told a news conference Tuesday, commending the work of a government-ordered expert panel that blamed poor dam design for the collapse at the open pit gold and copper mine.

The report, released last week, said building the mine’s tailings site on a sloped glacial lake failed to account for drainage and erosion.

It likened the ad hoc approach to the pond’s design and construction to loading a gun and pulling the trigger. “We urge the province of British Columbia ΓǪ to know and understand this is not a smorgasbord,” said Grand Chief Stewart Philip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs about the seven recommendations.

He called on the B.C. government to take immediate action in implementing the panel’s conclusions.

“There has to be serious mining reform, there has to be safer oversight,” he said, adding the need for an overhaul of the regulatory regime.

The dam’s collapse in the early hours of Aug. 4 last year sent 24 million cubic metres of wastewater gushing into nearby lakes and streams in an event Philip described as one of the worst disasters in Canadian mining history.

The failure could not have happened at a worse time, said Xat’sull Chief Bev Sellars, describing the impact on the Fraser River’s migrating salmon population.

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