B.C. conservation officers raid two sites in Mount Polley investigation – by Sunny Dhillon (Globe and Mail – February 4, 2015)

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VANCOUVER — Conservation officers investigating the Mount Polley mine spill have finished raiding two sites, though it remains unclear what charges could be laid, or when.

Officers executed search warrants at the mine, near Williams Lake, and the company’s Vancouver office on Tuesday. The spill occurred in August, when 25 million cubic metres of water and mining waste breached a tailings pond and entered Polley Lake and Quesnel Lake.

The investigation is being led by the B.C. Conservation Officer Service, a government agency that focuses on natural resource law enforcement and human-wildlife conflicts.

Chris Doyle, an agency inspector, said Wednesday he could not indicate when the investigation would be complete. “We don’t have a firm timeline, just due to the complexity of the investigation. The goal is obviously to gather the best evidence possible,” he said in an interview.

Mr. Doyle was tight-lipped when asked what officers were hoping to recover from the raids. More than 70 officers were involved, he said.

The search warrants have been sealed to ensure the integrity of the investigation, Mr. Doyle said. He said the investigation primarily focuses on offences in respect to the B.C. Environmental Management Act and the federal Fisheries Act “but is not limited to these acts.”

Imperial Metals, which owns the mine, has said it understands the search warrants to be a normal means of investigation and the company has fully co-operated with authorities.

The raids occurred on the same day Imperial Metals marked the start of operations at its new Red Chris mine, in northern B.C.

The Conservation Officer Service is being assisted in the investigation by Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and the RCMP. Mr. Doyle said the timing of the raids was not related to, or delayed by, the release of a report into the spill by a panel of experts.

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