Mount Polley Disaster should lead to Mining Moratorium says Secwepemc Territorial Authority

Posted by admin on Aug 25th, 2014

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The Mount Polley mine disaster is one of the biggest environmental disasters in modern Canadian history.

On August 4, the dam of a tailings pond breached from the Imperial Metals-operated Mount Polley mine on our Secwepemc territory at Yuct Ne Senxiymetkwe, releasing 2.5 billion gallons of contaminated water and 4.5 million cubic metres of metals-laden fine sand into Hazeltine Creek, Polley Lake and Quesnel Lake.

We, the Secwepemc Territorial Authority, under the authority of Secwepemc Natural Law, lit a sacred fire at the spill site as of Monday August 18 2014. ( For ongoing updates from Yuct Ne Senxiymetkwe Camp: )

While here at the spill site we have learnt that there is no safe or reliable clean up plan. Imperial Metals are pumping the tailings into fresh water leading to Quesnel Lake, the cleanest deep-water lake in the world. Fishers report skin peeling off salmon. Workers have not been informed about impacts to their health and safety; they have to swim through Polley Lake to remove dead fish without any biohazard suits. Local residents are deeply concerned about cumulative health effects. Biologist Alexandra Morton has documented the appearance of a blue film on the surface of Quesnel Lake and the Quesnel River, noting “when you touch this film, it burns your skin.”

Imperial Metals has another proposed development in our territory, the Ruddock Creek zinc and lead mine near the headwaters of the Upper Adams River, home to the world’s largest sockeye salmon run.

We have delivered an eviction notice to Imperial Metals at their head offices in Vancouver. It reads: “Our Elders stated they do not want anything that poisons our water or salmon. Our People made a declaration opposing the Ruddock Creek mine and held water ceremonies to protect our water and salmon. We assert Secwepemc inherent jurisdiction and Aboriginal Title. Notice is hereby issued to Imperial Metals owners, employees, insurers, and investors that Neskonlith will not provide access to our lands for the Ruddock Creek mining development. If Imperial Metals does not comply, Neskonlith will also block access to the Ruddock Creek Mine to ensure it is closed indefinitely.”

Imperial Metals has made significant political donations to the provincial government, and now the government is down-playing this massive disaster. There are at least 20 operating mines with similar tailings pond dams in B.C and Premier Christy Clark’s has announced a plan to build 17 new and expanded mines by 2015. Since the B.C. Liberals took office in 2001, mine inspections have reduced by nearly half while environmental orders have decreased by over 90 per cent.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the federal government has also been absent, despite the scale of the devastation on unceded Indigenous lands.

All of this is unacceptable. This is a critical time and we need all our relations to stand up to protect the land and water for our future. Please sign our petition, encourage others to sign and share it, and click on the right to receive updates from the encampment. (note: your email addresses will go to the Secwepemc Territorial Authority)

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