No charges under B.C.’s mining laws for failure of Mount Polley mine dam – by Gordon Hoekstra (Vancouver Sun – December 17, 2015)

No charges are being issued under the province’s mining laws against Imperial Metals’ over the catastrophic failure of its Mount Polley mine dam.

Following a more than one-year investigation, B.C.’s chief inspector of mines has not recommended charges be forwarded to Crown counsel over the dam failure on Aug. 4, 2014. The failure of the rock-and-earth dam released 21 million cubic metres of water and finely-ground rock containing potentially toxic metals into the Quesnel Lake watershed.

“Although there was poor practices there was no non-compliances we could find,” B.C. chief inspector of mines Al Hoffman said Thursday in releasing the investigation report.

There will also be no fines or penalties issued either, as B.C.’s mining legislation and regulations do not allow for administrative actions.

Hoffman, however, has made 19 recommendations to ensure another such event does not occur. Those include that a dam safety manager be appointed at mines and that mines be required to appoint independent review panels as a second pair of eyes on designs and operation.

B.C. Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett said all 19 recommendations will be implemented.

The chief inspector’s investigation found the cause of the failure was a design problem that failed to account for a weak glacial soil layer beneath the foundation of the dam.

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