Common Sense Canadian

Aerial video of burst Mount Polley Mine tailings pond

PostedAugust 5, 2014 by in BC

Watch this aerial footage of yesterday’s Mount Polley Mine tailings pond breach, courtesy of the Cariboo Regional District. The failure of Imperial Metals’ gold-copper mine tailings pond prompted an emergency water use ban and threatens fish in the Quesnel and Fraser rivers.

A special public information meeting has been scheduled by the Cariboo Regional District for tonight (Aug 5) at 4pm at the Likely Community Hall.

According to Global News, an Environment Canada report from last year reveals the mine’s tailing include arsenic, mercury, lead, zinc, and phosphorus, along with numerous other elements.

World Rivers Day and BCIT Rivers Institue founder Mark Angelo related his concerns about the potential impacts on this summer’s returning salmon to Global:

You’re talking about Hazeltine Creek, Quesnel Lake, Quesnel River, then the Fraser. Clearly that’s a major salmon system. We’re expecting a massive sockeye return. That concerns me deeply.

The disaster forced emergency restrictions on water use from the regional district, which posted the following advisory yesterday on its facebook page:

The Cariboo Regional District has received the following information from the Helicopter reconnaissance taken this morning.

A small amount of debris backed into Polley Lake. The main slurry flow went down Hazletine Creek where it meets Quesnel Lake. The slurry and a large debris pile appear to be stationary at this point. Hazleton Creek was originally about 4 feet wide and is now up to 150 ft. wide.

Waterways affected by this event include Quesnel Lake, Polley Lake, Hazeltine Creek and Cariboo Creek. Additionally the Horsefly Likely Forest Service Road (Ditch Road) has been washed out at Hazeltine Creek. The Likely Bridge is not affected at this time.

A water-use ban remains in place and includes recreational water activities, bathing, and drinking etc. Everyone in this area should use bottled water until further notice.

For accurate and up to date information, please visit the Cariboo Regional District’s Emergency Operations Facebook page at or the CRD web site at

A public information line has been established at 250-398-5581.

Further information will be provided as it becomes available.


Also see video from the ground taken by RCMP yesterday:

From Cariboo Regional District

From Cariboo Regional District


About the Author

Damien Gillis

Damien Gillis is a Vancouver-based documentary filmmaker with a focus on environmental and social justice issues - especially relating to water, energy, and saving Canada's wild salmon - working with many environmental organizations in BC and around the world. He is the co-founder, along with Rafe Mair, of The Common Sense Canadian, and a board member of both the BC Environmental Network and the Haig-Brown Institute.



    IS there any public timeline available ..failure was at 3:45 AM .. what was happening 1-2 hours before, and after .. is this available somewhere?


    And its day 3 of this environmental disaster and Premier photo op is no where to be found ……….
    Perhaps busy cramming with a phalanx of $150k per annum consultants on how to balance a ball on her nose while saying the phrase, “the water is ok” over and over until she can get it right.

    Not a peep from the MSM tonight on 6pm Global news as to where she is and why she’s persona non grata.

    They know where their advertising dollars are coming from. No sense ruining THAT financial gravy train eh Mr Gailus?

    Pathetic if it wasnt so sad.


    It wasn’t connected (until Monday) Hazeltine creek runs out of Polley lake into Quesnel lake. The tailings flowed upstream into Polley and downstream into Quesnel Hazeltine creek ran parallel to the side of the dam that broke.

    John Dunbar

    Of course, the next thing to talk about will be “clean-up” and the main portion of whatever is done will inevitably be borne by the tax payers of BC. What should happen is that every square metre should be rehabilitated as well as humanly possible with the entire expense being paid by anyone who has ever owned a share in Imperial Metals.

    However, this won’t happen any more than it happened at Lac Megantic or will happen in the future as pipelines rupture and tankers run aground.

    Paul Villeneuve

    This is a mine, Right !! A place full of rock and breach filling material…. Where are the large haul trucks and bulldozers and loaders filling the breach.?
    Who is running the show up there ? School kids would do a better job..

    Joanne Eriksson

    And the reason ‘they’ don’t extract the ‘arsenic, mercury, lead, zinc, and phosphorus’ when these are all useful elements is…?
    Any economical justification for not extracting these elements or stabilizing them in some manner other than tailings ponds, has just gone down the drain. Companies should be mandated to extract and/or stabilize any toxic material before disposal. It would be cheaper to sell the lead, etc at a loss than face the astronomical costs of irreparable spills such as this one.

    Susan Fleming

    I am sick at this news. Absolutely catastrophic. The first question: what is a tailings pond doing connected to the river or creek?

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