VANCOUVER – There will be no provincial charges into a tailings dam collapse in British Columbia but the province’s new environment minister says a mining company may still be held responsible through federal laws.
George Heyman said the August 2014 disaster has had tremendous economic and environmental consequences and British Columbians deserve to know what went wrong at the Mount Polley mine near Williams Lake.
A three-year deadline on charges will pass on Friday in the midst of an ongoing investigation by B.C.’s Conservation Officer Service, and the head of the agency says he doesn’t know when the probe will be completed.
WATCH: Global BC coverage of the Mount Polley mine disaster
Chris Doyle says the federal departments of Environment and Fisheries and Oceans Canada are continuing to conduct their own probes into the spill.
“The investigation itself has no deadline. The federal fisheries act is five years if proceeding summarily, but there’s no timeline if proceeding by indictment.”
In a statement issued Wednesday, Heyman said potential charges under the federal fisheries act remain in play.
READ MORE: New environmental rules for tailings ponds
The Mount Polley dam breached at the gold and copper mine, sending 24 million cubic meters of mine waste and sludge into nearby waterways.
Two reports found the collapse at the mine operated by Imperial Metals Corp. (TSX:III) was caused by a poorly designed dam that didn’t account for drainage and erosion failures.
-With files from Charmaine de Silva, CKNW