News | August 8, 2014

Massive Mine Tailings Spill Triggers Water Ban In BC

A massive spill of toxic waste from a mine tailings pond in central British Columbia has triggered a widespread "do not drink water" order.

Approximatley 10 million cubic meters (2.6 billion gallons) of tailings pond effluent began rushing through a breach in the tailing pond dam into waterways in the Cariboo Regional District on August 4. District officials declared a local state of emergency and banned water consumption and bathing that included a warning that "boiling will not help." Officials also cautioned against livestock consumption of the water. The ban applied to water drawn from Quesnel Lake, Polley Lake, Hazeltine Creek and Cariboo Creek as well as the entire Quesnel and Cariboo rivers right up to the Fraser River.

BC Ministry of Environment officials report that water sampling began immediately, but that as of August 6 the impacts on the environment were unknown, as was the cause of the breach.

Read more from the Environment Ministry and the Regional District.

SOURCE: American Water Works Association