Lack of transparency undermines public confidence in B.C. mining industry, say New Democrats

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VANCOUVER –  The B.C. Liberals’ efforts to shield key documents on mine safety incidents from public scrutiny are undermining public confidence in the B.C. mining industry, say B.C.’s New Democrats.

“The Mount Polley tailings pond failure was an unprecedented disaster in B.C.,” said New Democrat spokesperson for energy and mines Norm Macdonald. “The Liberal government’s failure to provide the public with complete information about the tailings pond failure and the safety record of other tailings facilities in B.C. is undermining public trust in resource development.”

Macdonald noted that the government held up the release of documents detailing dangerous occurrences at tailings ponds across B.C. when requested by the media – details that should be available to the public and potential investors. He added that that it took more than 10 days after the disaster to release even the most basic of documents – the mine’s permit.

“The B.C. Liberals’ failure to deal openly and transparently with this disaster will hurt not only mining and other resource industries that drive our economy, but also the workers and communities who rely on them,” said Macdonald.

Macdonald, along with New Democrat environment spokesperson Spencer Chandra Herbert, will travel to Likely this week to meet with residents, mine workers and First Nations to discuss the impacts of the tailings pond failure on the community, environment and regional economy.

“When Premier Christy Clark briefly swooped into Likely several days after the disaster, she assured the town everything was all right, but since then we’ve seen evidence that is clearly not the case,” said Chandra Herbert.

Chandra Herbert pointed to reports that suggest possible negative long-term impacts from the spill on fish and other key environmental values. Last week, noted UBC fisheries researcher Carl Walters said that several weather-related factors could cause the tailings pond sediment and effluent to impact migrating Fraser River sockeye.

“Listening to the Liberal environment minister try to suggest everything’s fine with the fish and water but then warn people not to eat certain parts of the fish just turned my stomach,” said Chandra Herbert.

“Christy Clark and the B.C. Liberals seem to know what to say when it comes to this disaster, but when it comes to taking responsibility, being transparent, and taking action on the environmental devastation in the Cariboo, they are falling flat.”