Mt Polley Spins and Delays begin

The disaster at the Mount Polley mine owned by Imperial Minerals (TSE: III) is, in my opinion disgusting.

I'm pretty sure that the sensationalist reporting  (escalating estimates) if they get on the right track may be closer to the truth than we think. Certainly the estimates by the government, who I allege have a huge stake in what happened, and the mine are lowball.

The spin I want to talk about is the condition of the water.

 The minister promised a thorough investigation that will look at both the actions of the provincial government and the company. (watch for the delays on this one)

 How will the government get at the truth? Premier Christy Clark has promised a vigorous investigation — but not a public inquiry. And that's a problem because there are bound to be lawsuits. And we all know from the BC Rail trial (whitewash) that the BC Liberals' standard response will be "we can't comment because it's before the courts".

Now, when the company CEO said he would drink the water, then with a blink as if to recognize the enormity of what he said, added "once the paticles settled", made me laugh so hard I almost choked.

Following is a list of what's in the tailings:

  • Phosphorus – 41,640 tonnes
  • Manganese – 20,988 tonnes
  • Copper – 18,413 tonnes
  • Vanadium – 5,047 tonnes
  • Zinc – 2,169 tonnes
  • Cobalt – 475 tonnes
  • Nickel – 326 tonnes
  • Antimony – 14 tonnes
  • Arsenic – 406,122 kg
  • Lead – 177,041 kg
  • Selenium – 46,136 kg
  • Cadmium – 6,487 kg
  • Mercury – 3,114 kg  
It's my understanding the selenium is what is most harmful to the fish.

That was the beginning.

Then, in the absence of premier photo-op, and her local MLA (who it is said has only visited the area once), up steps the person I allege is the master of spin in the present sitting government. Bill Bennett.

The guy is masterful. First he tells the locals what they want to hear. Things like this are bad. This is disasterous. They're going to pay. There are bonds for this. There is a contingency.. We're going to find out what happened. blah, blah, blah.

All the time this crap is being spewed there are aerial photos of tailings running out through the breach and only one piece of equipment sitting immobile on the dyke. Nothing is being done to seal the breach.

Finally we hear that the government has given directives. That was late Thursday. Four days after the breach. So if it took that long for the government to wake up it should be no surprise that the company says it will take more than a year to repair the dyke. That would be the same dyke that the company ignored warnings for about four years that was a disaster waiting to happen. One can only wonder if these ignored warnings were caused by two levels of government changing the rules to favor industry.

Speaking of governments, it is worthy to note that the only level to step up immediately was the Cariboo Regional District (CRD). They issued a do not use edict for the water. Almost immediately while other levels were doing nothing but posing for the cameras.

Now we come to the water. Why is everyone saying the tests are within acceptable parameters? Then adding notes to the tests? And by the way, why is the surface water being tested? The chemicals are on the bottom. And whatever is on the bottom will eventually find its way into the aquifer.Once that happens the wells won't be worth shit.

And now we have this from the Minister apparently trying to reduce the scope of the cleanup:

 “What we need to do is test those sediments to determine whether it’s better environmentally to leave them there or to try to collect them and get them out of the creek bed and get them out of the creek mouth in Quesnel Lake,” Bennett said. “Before you start dredging lake bottoms and trying to clean up the bottom of a creek bed to get the sand out, you’ve got to determine what the risk is first, and that’s the phase that we’re in right now.”

Notice they don't say which risk they are talking about. I submit it's the financial risk. So in my opinion the smoke and mirrors are now gearing up to full force.


Bill said...

Excellent summation!

Your observations are far more factual than what 95% of the MSM are reporting / not reporting so far on this epic failure. Another too common and "natural avalanche" of failed government stewardship allowing corporate short cuts to profit - at great cost to British Columbians and epic damage to our environment.

Liberals are into spin mode, circling the wagons as usual. They will deminish, deflect, and delay in hopes that we will be distracted and deluded - and we will all move on to their next scandal.

B.S. Bill Bennett, Mary "Pollywog" Polak, Photo-op Christy are all about protecting their political and corporate family. They will use all resources to cover up their transgressions. They are as transparent and toxic as the tailings waste. Both need "cleaning up" if that is even possible. I have more hope for our environment healing than tthis government coming clean.

Anonymous said...

•Phosphorus – 41,640 tonnes
•Manganese – 20,988 tonnes
•Copper – 18,413 tonnes
•Vanadium – 5,047 tonnes
•Zinc – 2,169 tonnes
•Cobalt – 475 tonnes
•Nickel – 326 tonnes
•Antimony – 14 tonnes
•Arsenic – 406,122 kg
•Lead – 177,041 kg
•Selenium – 46,136 kg
•Cadmium – 6,487 kg
•Mercury – 3,114 kg
Seems like a lot, until you look closer and realize that these number are the totals contained in 44.5 Million tonnes of tailings, not just the tailing that were split. So for example lets look at mercury.
The government limits are usually set in Parts per Million (PPM) or Micrograms/gram.
So convert our mercury number into grams.
3114kg = 3114000 grams
Then divide it by the amount of tonnes that contain it
3114000/4450000=.07 grams per tonne.
BC Working Sediment Quality Guidelines set their lower limit at .17 PPM.
So these tailing are 2.4 times lower than the guide line.
Do the same calculation for all the metals and you will find the same thing. All the values are about the same for any granite rock you would find in that region. (except for Copper, it will be a bit over because we are talking about a copper mine).
Here are test numbers from the MoE.