Debris from the Mount Polley tailings pond breach.
Cariboo Regional District Emergency Operations Centre

The Latest: Ruptured tailings pond spills waste in Canada

 

Backstory

In the remote northwestern corner of British Columbia, next to Alaska, plans for large mining and hydropower projects have sounded alarm bells on both sides of the border. Critics, mostly environmentalists and tribes, warned that Canada’s resource rush threatens rivers that support a vital wild salmon fishery in both countries, and that the race to expedite projects was weakening environmental laws (“A Mining Rush in Canada’s Backcountry Threatens Alaska’s Salmon,” HCN, 12/24/12).

Followup

In August, a tailings pond from Imperial Metals’ Mount Polley Mine ruptured, spilling millions of gallons of waste into Canada’s Quesnel Lake Region in northwestern British Columbia. No one seems to know the exact concentration of toxic chemicals now leaching into the upper Fraser River, but millions of already endangered sockeye salmon are now headed up the river to spawn. For more, see hcne.ws/mountpolley