December 18, 2014 6:32 pm

Government allows Mount Polley to begin repair work

Contents from a tailings pond is pictured going down the Hazeltine Creek into Quesnel Lake near the town of Likely, B.C. on August, 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward


Work on repairing the breach in the Mount Polley tailings pond can begin, as the government has approved an amendment to the mine’s permit. However, Mount Polley is not allowed to restart work at the mine.

“The repair work is part of the long-term remediation plan for the area impacted by the Mount Polley breach,” said the Ministry of Energy and Mines in a statement.

“The work at the tailings storage facility will help ensure that the increased water flow from melting snow (also known as spring freshet or spring breakup) will not result in additional environmental or human health impacts.”

There are fears that increased water from melting snow will cause problems with the ongoing cleanup. Five million cubic metres of waste spilled into Hazeltine Creek, Quesnel Lake and Polley lake following the breach of the pond on August 4.

WATCH: Aerials of destruction caused by Mount Polley Mine tailings pond breach

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Last month, Environment Minister Mary Polak said that while all water outside the impact remained safe, it would take years to restore the outdoor surroundings to their original state.

“This is the very, very beginning. And it’s not to downplay the efforts that have been made by Mount Polley,” Polak said in a conference call with reporters.

“But the scale of the initial disaster is tremendous. We are at the very beginnings of this. It is going to take a long time.”

READ MORE: Cleanup will continue for some time

The permit allows repairs to begin comes as another First Nations band is threatening legal action against the government over a tailings spill last week.

The Lower Similkameen Indian Band says it is considering seeking an injunction to stop work at the Copper Mountain Mine near Princeton, B.C., until a third-party investigation can be conducted into the spill and clean-up. 500 tonnes of mine slurry spilled into Wolf Creek last week, although Copper Mountain says it has not gone into the Similkameen River.

WATCH: Lower Similkameen Indian Band Chief Keith Crow discusses the potential lawsuit

– With files from The Canadian Press

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