Mount Polley disaster ripples through British Columbia, with blockades and layoffs
By Deirdre Fulton, staff writer
The Neskonlith Indian Band on Thursday served an eviction notice to Imperial Metals, the company responsible for the massive tailings pond breach at Mount Polley Mine in British Columbia, which is seeking to site a separate lead and zinc mine near the headwaters of the Adams River — within Neskonlith territory and home to an important sockeye salmon run. Known as the Ruddock Creek Mine, the contested project is still in the development phase and has yet to go through the environmental assessment process.
“As…the caretakers of our land and waters, Neskonlith, part of the Lake Secwepemc People, have an obligation to protect our land for our future generations,” according to a statement issued by the First Nation band. “Neskonlith Indian Band cannot permit any mining development especially in these Sacred Headwaters that will contaminate the water or destroy our salmon habitat.”
In an interview with the Canadian Press, Neskonlith Chief Judy Wilson said the Mount Polley spill shows the company cannot be trusted to build and operate a mine while also protecting the surrounding environment. “The industry has proven at Mount Polley that they can’t regulate all of that,” she said.
Last week, a group calling themselves the Klabona Keepers blocked access to workers at the pending Red Chris Mine, also developed and operated by Imperial Metals and scheduled to open later this year.
In the Neskonlith statement, Wilson says that if Imperial Metals does not comply with their eviction notice, they will also block access to the Ruddock Creek Mine.
Imperial Metals, whose shares have fallen almost 40 percent since the Mount Polley disaster in early August, has said that there shouldn’t be a concern about a similar tailings pond breach at Ruddock, as the tailings would be stored in a different way than the Mount Polley mine.
A union representative this week told CBC News that 42 workers have received layoff notices in the wake of the spill.