Late last week the independent panel struck to determine the cause of the Mount Polley tailings pond breach released their report. It included a number of recommendations as to how we could modernize our B.C. mining sector. Unfortunately, instead of a collaborative effort to implement the recommendations, MLAs and pundits are trying to score political points off it.
The panel found that the tailings pond technology was outdated and that it was constructed on an unstable layer of “glacial till” that could not withstand the weight of the facility. This amounted to "loading the gun." Furthermore, “ad hoc” expansions, steepening of the walls and a lack of buttressing was what ultimately "pulled the trigger."
The panel’s report was the first of three expected on this disaster. They were not commissioned to assign blame - only to determine the geotechnical causes of the breach. Nonetheless, opposition members and government (and their pundits) immediately started pointing partisan fingers.
The fact is, blame for this event has yet to be determined and will likely be shared amongst many different stakeholders. At this moment in time, all we really know is that the status quo in our mining industry cannot go on.
The panel provided clear recommendations for the work that needs to be done by the government and the mining industry in British Columbia to ensure incidents such as this do not happen again.
The panelists were clear that BC has fallen way behind, but also provided a path forward for old, existing and future mines in British Columbia.
It is our politicians who now need to step up. Instead of pointing a finger at each other, they should be focused on governing. Fixing the regulatory framework that allowed this accident to occur will require us to come together across partisan lines to ensure that all the recommendations of the report are implemented. This is the only way we will restore confidence in our mining industry.
Frankly, British Columbians are tired of the nasty politics that leads us nowhere. We are tired of political opportunism and selective political memory. This deflects accountability.
So let’s be accountable to British Columbians – let’s acknowledge the failures and let’s move forward together on implementing the solutions. Ultimately, British Columbians want their government to be mature enough to make the necessary changes to ensure that this never happens again.
Please contact your MLA and encourage them to make sure the government fully implements the panel’s recommendations in a timely and cooperative manner.