B.C. breaking information act by not disclosing Mount Polley reports: lawyers
Experts from the Canadian University of Victoria have filed a complaint with British Columbia’s privacy commissioner, arguing the provincial government is breaking the law by not releasing the latest reports on Imperial Metals’ (TSX:III) Mount Polley mine.
The gold and copper operation has been grabbing headlines since the collapse of its tailings dam on Aug. 4, which sent the equivalent of 2,000 Olympic swimming pools of potentially toxic mining waste into Hazeltine Creek and Quesnel Lake.
According to Uvic’s Environmental Law Centre, B.C.’s Mines Ministry has turned down requests to release certain documents that are required to be produced under law. The authority has allegedly said that by doing so it would jeopardize the outcome of several government investigations.
Such refusal, allege the lawyers, constitutes an “apparent” breach of the information act, as the case is “a matter of clear and pressing public interest,” reads the 60-page submission.
The lawyers are also calling on the privacy commissioner to recommend reform of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to require posting online of mining permits, orders, engineering and safety inspections and tailings storage facility reports.
In early September B.C. authorities issued a formal warning to Imperial Metals after an inspection to the Mount Polley mine found waste was still leaking from its breached tailing dam facility a month after it burst.
The company has said a clean-up plan is underway. However, experts worry with winter rains about to hit soon — and the deep-freeze of winter around the corner — the company has little time to waste.
Image from archives.