Investigation into Mount Polley looking like latest B.C. Liberal whitewash

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VICTORIA – The investigation into the Mount Polley mine disaster is turning into the latest B.C. Liberal whitewash, say the New Democrats.

“The Liberals are hiding behind advice from the chief inspector of mines, who is saying ‘don’t release any information about the disaster’ when it’s the actions of his office that are ultimately under investigation,” says the New Democrat spokesperson for mining Norm Macdonald.

“Under what other circumstance could you imagine someone under investigation able to direct what information could be released?”

On Aug. 4, the tailings pond dam at the Mount Polley mine breached, spilling at least 25 million cubic metres of tailings and effluent into surrounding waterways near the Cariboo community of Likely. The long-term effects on the surrounding environment are not yet known and no timetable for a full cleanup has been released.

Since late August, the New Democrats have been requesting all documents related to the spill – including inspections reports – be made publicly available.

“The environment minister and the mines minister have been claiming that the advice from the chief inspector insulates them from any obligation to release the documents,” said New Democrat environment spokesperson Spencer Chandra Herbert. “Yet they have been selectively releasing documents to the media, timing it so it would have the least political impact.

“The mines minister has admitted that Liberal cutbacks led to significant reductions in inspections at Mount Polley, including three years with no geotechnical inspections. British Columbians deserve to know all the information that led to this environmental disaster.”