Three-year deadline to lay charges for Mt. Polley dam failure approaching fast – by Gordon Hoekstra (June 20, 2017)

A deadline looms for provincial charges to be laid in the failure of the tailings dam at Imperial Metals’ Mount Polley mine, but the B.C. Conservation Officer Service says the investigation has not finished.

There is a three-year time limit to lay charges under B.C.’s Environmental Management Act. The deadline is less than two months away, on Aug. 4. The conservation service has been leading a joint investigation with the federal Environment and Fisheries departments.

Chris Doyle, deputy chief of the B.C. Conservation Officer Service, said Tuesday that when the investigation is complete, the findings will be forwarded to Crown counsel for review and to determine what charges will be laid, if any.

Doyle said he could not comment on whether the investigation would be complete before the three-year deadline. A dedicated team of 15 to 16 B.C. conservation officers have been working on the case with several federal Environment and Fisheries officers, said Doyle. “It’s a very complex investigation,” he said.

There is a longer period to lay charges under the federal Fisheries Act — five years for summary convictions, and no time limit for the most serious charges that could result in jail time.

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