Biologist documents blue film on Quesnel River following Mount Polley spill
Independent biologist Alexandra Morton has documented the appearance of a mysterious blue film on the surface of Quesnel Lake and the Quesnel River. Morton has been surveying the region’s aquatic systems – taking water samples, video and photos – in the wake of the Mount Polley tailings spill.
She posted the above video and below photos on her blog yesterday. Taken in the town of Likely, at the northwest tip of Quesnel Lake and mouth of the Quesnel River, Morton says the images correspond with an earlier sighting of the same film on another portion of the lake the day before. “It was visible wherever debris collected. It appeared as a sheen across the entire lake,” Morton noted on her blog.
“When you touch this film, it burns your skin like a jelly fish sting. A small crowd collected and everyone could see it. What is this? What is it doing to the Fraser River?” Morton asked, explaining that the Quesnel River flows into the Fraser, where this summer’s salmon are beginning to return.
“Is this chemical layer on the surface of Quesnel Lake a flocculant used to seperate mining waste?” Morton wonders. [see The Common Sense Canadian’s earlier story discussing flocculants or “chemical reagents” in the mining process and potential presence in local aquatic systems] “Is it from the human waste that was apparently loaded into the empty northbound mining trucks and dumped into the tailing pond? What is it and is it dangerous to life? I had a plankton net in my car and used it to collect a concentrated sample.”
Ministry officials confirm blue film, investigation
After alerting the Interior Health Authority officials to the issue, Morton received the following response, sent by Roger Parsonage, Regional Director, Health Protection:
- If possible, see their health care provider for a diagnosis
- Call our Williams Lake office at 1-888-702-7771 to report details of the exposure, their symptoms, and diagnosis (if available)