Editor’s Note: The following media release was issued by Chief Shane Gottfriedson, spokesperson for the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council. Imperial Metals Corporation, the owner of the Mount Polley Mine, also hopes to develop a mine at Ruddock Creek near Tum Tum Lake in the headwaters of the Adams River.
The Shuswap Nation Tribal Council (SNTC) condemns the inaction following the disastrous breach of the Mount Polley Mine’s tailing pond early Monday, August 4th, 2014.
The breach which caused over 5 million cubic meters of contaminated water and toxic effluent to flow into the Hazeltine Creek and surrounding area is a state of emergency requiring immediate action.
The Williams Lake Indian Band, the Soda Creek Indian Band, members of the Northern Shuswap Tribal Council, and the surrounding communities have opposed permits for the mine to discharge effluent into the Quesnel Lake because of environmental concerns, and yet nothing was done. Despite years of opposition and public outcry the Mount Polley Mine, owned by Imperial Metals Corporation, did not have a cohesive emergency plan in place.
“We are deeply concerned about the environmental degradation that this man-made disaster will leave in its wake, not only now, but well into the future,” says Chief Shane Gottfriedson, Tribal spokesperson. “When Prime Minister Harper changed the environmental legislation without First Nation’s consultation we knew it would be only a matter of time before something like this happened. We collectively demand action from the governments of Canada and British Columbia to limit the negative impacts of this breach and to ensure that something like this never happens again.”
With what appears to be a limited emergency response it is highly likely the breach will affect many southern waterways, posing immense danger to the health of all British Columbians through the threat to our drinking water and the health of this year’s Adams River sockeye salmon run, predicted to be a record breaking return.
“This isn’t just a Secwepemc nation problem, this is a provincial problem. We must hold all levels of government accountable, as well as the owners of the mine. This breach affects each and every person and living organism in this province, including our sockeye. This is a wake-up call for British Columbians. What does Imperial Metals plan to do? How can we in good faith allow them to do it again at Ruddock Creek? We must demand a moratorium on mining and exploration activities in our province before it’s too late,” says Chief Nelson Leon, Adams Lake Indian Band.
“We will not tolerate Imperial Metals downplaying this disaster, and demand a comprehensive review of safety procedures on all tailings. There will be no mining within the Secwepemc nation until these demands have been met. Criminal charges must be laid against this company,” added Chief Gottfriedson.
The SNTC works to advance the collective issues of aboriginal rights and title. The SNTC is involved with fisheries and habitat management within the Secwepemc nation’s traditional territory and is dedicated to integrated, holistic approaches to ecosystem conservation and management.
More information can be found at www.shuswapnation.org