A mining project on Banks Island has been ordered shutdown due to concerns over pollution.
The island is about 110km south of Prince Rupert in the Hecate Strait.
According to a report by the Ministry of Environment, tailings and effluent from an advanced exploration site have been discharged into the environment.
The site is run by Vancouver-based Banks Island Gold Ltd. as part of their Yellow Giant project.
The report cites two instances of illegal discharges, in March, and on June 24th, 2015.
Ministry staff inspected the area on July 9th and they observed significant amounts of tailings, sediment and effluent present in the environment at six locations.
A Pollution Abatement Order was issued on July 10th.
Concerns listed include the continuing seepage of tailings into a nearby creek, overflow of the unauthorized sediment control pond when it rains, and continued release of tailings from the site.
In the order, the company was given eight requirements.
Some of those include a immediate halt to unauthorized discharges, begin clean up and mitigation activities and measures.
A follow up inspection was conducted on July 15th and shutdown order was then issued.
Banks Island is on the traditional territory of the Gitxaala Nation.
James Witzke, the Environmental Assessment Manager for Gitxaala Environmental Monitoring says they’re aware of the issue and are investigating.
Brenna Innes of the Gitxaala Nation says the lack of information isn’t making her feel any better, but she’s been told that the Gitxaala Nation is looking at options to removing the mining project from Banks Island.
Innes says one of her biggest concerns is that the timing of the effluent and tailings discharges also coincided with the seaweed harvest.
She also says Banks Island is an important resource for her people, where they harvest a multitude of foods.
She’s concerned what impact the pollution will have on the island, and on her people who have harvested food from the area.
CFNR News has contacted the Ministry of Environment, the Gitxaala Nation, as well as Banks Island Ltd. and will update as the story develops.