First Nations, environmentalists worry about salmon run after Mount Polley

Chilliwack First Nations have fielded worries from environmental groups and their own members about the Fraser River salmon run after the Mount Polley tailings pond breach early Monday.

“They’re all very concerned about this disaster. They want to know how quickly it will get here and what can be done,” said Ernie Crey, a fisheries advisor for Sto:lo Tribal Council, in an interview with the Chilliwack Progress.

“A spill from a mine tailings pond is a serious matter and the potential impact can’t be underestimated.”

Gord Sterritt, executive director of the Upper Fraser Fisheries Conservation Alliance, outlined some threats from the spill that may affect salmon.

“It could alter their senses, put them in a bit of disarray and stress them out,” Sterritt told the CBC.

“And they wouldn’t be able to mate and get back to their spawning grounds,” he added.

When the tailings pond dam broke, water flowed down Hazeltine Creek and into Quesnel Lake, British Columbia’s deepest lake.

As a result of the spill the Cariboo Regional District implemented a water advisory and advised residents not to drink water from Quesnel Lake, Cariboo Creek, Hazeltine Creek and Polley Lake areas. The water advisory was extended to include the entire Quesnel River system right to the Fraser River.

The Cariboo Regional District has declared a State of Local Emergency as a result of the Mount Polley Tailings Pond Breach.

Image showing debris field from Cariboo Regional District Emergency Operations Centre

DISCLOSURE: The reporter Michael McCrae is an investor in Imperial Metals.