from rianovosti.com: Hundreds of British Columbia residents can no longer consume water at
the place where they live following a billion gallon spill of mining
waste that reached rivers and creeks in the Cariboo provincial area, the
The open-pit Mount Polley copper and gold mine recently suffered a
breach in a tailings pond, which caused 1.3 billion gallons of slurry to
pour out straight into Hazeltine Creek, equaling in size nearly 2,000
Olympic swimming pools.
The mining waste, which is feared to comprise dangerous elements like
arsenic, mercury, and sulfur, uprooted trees as it was flowing en masse
to the creek. Tailings ponds from mineral mines generally store water,
mixed with chemicals and ground-up minerals left over from mining
The number of people currently banned from using water stands at 300,
but it may go up, as authorities are trying to determine how far the
waste has traveled, alongside the cause of the breach.
Though disastrous, the spill didn’t come as a surprise. The Vancouver
Sun reports that the first concerns about the Mount Polley tailings
pond date back to 2011, and were then expressed by an environmental
consulting firm. The report specially drafted for the British Columbia
Ministry of the Environment back then called for an emergency plan for
similar water reservoirs, stating the pond should be closely monitored.
Moreover, tailings ponds pose a bit of concern with regard to bird
species that land on dangerous water mixes, mistaking these for natural
bodies of water. Poisonous substances may further reach ground waters,
severely polluting nearby rivers, ecologists state.