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Massive Mining Dam Disaster In Canada: 'Like The Exxon Valdez'

Joe Alphonse of the Tsihqot’in Tribal Council: “This is the worst situation at the worst time possible."

According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, British Columbia Premier Christy Clark is a cheerleader for the mining industry. Funny how these unregulated things happen:

A massive tailings dam rupture at a mine off the upper Fraser River, which occurred Monday on British Columbia Day, is being likened to Alaska’s Exxon Valdez tanker grounding, as a wide-ranging disaster preventable had there been competent oversight.

The rupture at the Mount Polley Mine released 10 million cubic meters of water, and 4.5 million cubic meters of toxic silt, into nearby Polley Lake. The lake in turn drains into the larger Quesnel Lake, close to one of the Fraser River’s major sockeye salmon spawning grounds.

“This is devastation,” Joe Alphonse of the Tsihqot’in Tribal Council said in a statement.“This year we are expecting over 2 1/2 million salmon to return with this run just entering the Fraser River. This is the worst situation at the worst time possible. The company will be held accountable.”

The Fraser River’s salmon fishery is shared by both American and Canadian fishermen.The British Columbia government has long served as a cheerleader for the province’s mining industry. It has supported proposed projects that would turn lakes into toxic tailing ponds.The province has not even paid attention to appearances.

Lake of the Hanging Glacier, in the Purcell Mountains of eastern B.C., is a world-renowned beauty spot. One year, however, a party of visiting American hikers found a mining camp latrine close by the lake shore with a yellow stream of urine going into the water.

The Mount Polley mine is in the Cariboo Region of central British Columbia. It is a region of long, finger-like lakes that feed west into the Fraser River.

The Horsefly River, just south of Quesnel Lake, is spawning grounds for one of the Fraser River system’s four great sockeye salmon runs.The mine has consistently failed to live up to government water quality standards for human and aquatic life.

“Data sent to the (environment) ministry by Mount Polley as recently as Monday showed selenium concentration exceeded drinking water guidelines by a factor of 2.8 times,” the Vancouver Sun reported.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said in a statement: “Like the Exxon Valdez, Mount Polley will be synonymous with one of the most disastrous environmental events in British Columbia."

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