August 8, 2014 6:10 pm

Partial water ban still in place for Likely B.C. as more samples taken from Quesnel River

An aerial view shows the damage caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C. Tuesday, August, 5, 2014.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

VANCOUVER – A partial water-use ban remains in place for Likely B.C. following a breach of the Mount Polley tailings pond on Monday.

Affecting close to 300 homes, the water ban extends to the entire Quesnel and Cariboo River systems up to the Fraser River, including Quesnel Lake, Cariboo Creek, Hazeltine Creek and Polley Lake.

The partial ban remains despite the fact that water samples taken from five locations in the Quesnel River on Friday met provincial and federal drinking water guidelines.

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Three samples collected on Thursday from the Quesnel Lake and River also met drinking water guidelines, but there is still a danger of a potential release of further sediment and debris that has built up at Polley Lake.

In a statement issued this afternoon, the Ministry of the Environment said the following:

Do Not Use water restrictions are rescinded north on the Quesnel River where it narrows and is shallow. This area is described as including and north of 6236  Cedar Creek Road on the Quesnel River and the balance of the Quesnel River system to the Fraser River. This means that water drawn from the Quesnel River, including and North of 6236 Cedar Creek Road on Quesnel River in Likely may be consumed per normal practice, and is now safe for recreational purposes from a health perspective.

However, given the presence of debris on these waters, recreational users are advised to avoid these areas.

Until further notice, a Do Not Use order for drinking water, personal and recreational use remains in effect for Polley Lake, Hazeltine Creek, Cariboo Creek and all parts of Quesnel Lake and points south of 6236 Cedar Creek Road on the Quesnel River in Likely. The public should also continue to refrain from using the waterways for recreational purposes. This includes swimming and fishing.

The Ministry of Environment has also approved Imperial Metals plan to reduce the water level in Polley Lake by constructing a pipeline to Hazeltine Creek which will flow downstream into Quesnel Lake. This water will be tested daily.

Initial water samples have also been taken from the shore of Polley Lake and have been sent for testing. These samples are being taken from the point where water is being diverted to lower the levels in Polley Lake as the Ministry of Environment says is still unsafe to access the lake by boat, to get samples from different depths and locations. However, they hope these surface samples will be a good early indicator of whether or not the water meets drinking water guidelinesand preliminary results are expected over the weekend.

A breach of the tailings pond on Mount Polley Mine on Monday sent five million cubic metres of waste into Hazeltine Creek, Quesnel Lake and Polley Lake.

The Conservation Officer Service is requesting the public’s assistance in their investigation into the cause of the tailings pond breach. There are six Major Investigation Unit (MIU) investigators currently assigned to the investigation.

If the public has any information, they are asked to call the Report all Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) line at 1 877 952-7277 or online at: www.env.gov.bc.ca/cos/rapp/form.htm

© Shaw Media, 2014

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