Mount Polley spill a lesson for Shawnigan

Re: “Tailings pond was growing before collapse: consultant,” Aug. 6.

The catastrophe unfolding in Likely is heartbreaking. The breach of the Mount Polley tailings pond might affect this area for generations.

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For the residents of Shawnigan Lake, who have been fighting a proposed contaminated soil site in their watershed, this disaster is a terrifying reminder of the dangers of mixing industrial activity with drinking water.

The B.C. Ministry of Environment issued a permit to South Island Aggregates to bring five million tonnes of contaminated soil to their site at the headwaters of the Shawnigan Creek. The creek feeds the lake, and the lake provides drinking water for 7,000 people. The permit has been appealed by the Cowichan Valley Regional District, the Shawnigan Residents Association and three residents of Shawnigan Lake.

All of the scientific experts who testified at the Environmental Appeal Board hearings shared serious misgivings about the location of the site and the potential threat to Shawnigan’s drinking water.

The Mount Polley disaster is the latest in a long line of toxic spills from mining sites in B.C. This is in part due to the lax and ramshackle regulatory culture of the B.C. government.

The tragedy in the Cariboo serves as a stark reminder that the people of Shawnigan must not give up on the fight to protect our drinking water.

Sonia Furstenau

Shawnigan Lake





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