Ecological impact of Mount Polley mine disaster confirmed by new study – by Winston Szeto (CBC News British Columbia – May 25, 2022)

Research shows higher levels of metals in invertebrates taken from Polley and Quesnel lakes

A newly published scientific study confirms the deep ecological impact of the Mount Polley mine disaster in B.C.’s Cariboo region nearly eight years ago.

The study, published last week in the academic journal Environmental Science and Pollution Research, shows small invertebrates taken from lake water affected by the tailings spill disaster had a higher concentration of copper and other metals than those taken from unaffected lake water.

In the summer of 2018, University of Lethbridge biology professor Greg Pyle and his colleagues sampled freshwater scuds, which are shrimp-like crustaceans, and mayfly larvae, which are aquatic anthropod insects, taken from Polley and Quesnel lakes, both located near the Mount Polley mine. They also sampled the animals from nearby Little Lake, which was not directly affected by the toxic waste.

Both freshwater scuds and mayfly larvae live on sediments and are considered important food sources for fish. Pyle, who has been studying the environmental impact of the Mount Polley mine disaster with the B.C. government and the University of Northern B.C. (UNBC) for years, says he’s concerned about how the pollution may impact commercial fisheries operating on Quesnel Lake.

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