VICTORIA – People are swimming and fishing in Quesnel Lake five years after the largest environmental mining disaster in Canadian history, but residents of Likely, B.C., are still struggling with unresolved emotions about what happened and who will be held accountable for the dam collapse at the Mount Polley mine.
A five-year deadline for federal Fisheries Act charges expired Sunday, while the possibility of other charges under the same act remains with no timeline for a decision. British Columbia missed the three-year deadline to proceed with charges under both the province’s Environmental Management Act and Mines Act.
Likely resident Lisa Kraus said the central B.C. community of about 350 people remains wounded, concerned and somewhat divided about the tailings dam breach at the Imperial Metals open-pit copper and gold mine.
The Aug. 4, 2014, collapse sent 24 million cubic metres of mine waste into Quesnel Lake, Hazeltine Creek and other area waterways.
An independent report into the disaster said the dam was built on a sloped glacial lake, weakening its foundation. It said the inadequate design of the dam didn’t account for drainage or erosion failures associated with glacial till beneath the pond.
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