A BC First Nations mining group is raising the alarm about risks posed by mine tailings ponds in northern British Columbia.
The First Nations Energy and Mining Council surveyed 35 tailings sites at 26 mining operations located on 48 watersheds.
The council says their potential failure threatens drinking water for 33 First Nations communities and 208 other communities, including Prince George, Smithers, Terrace, Williams Lake, and Quesnel.
The summary also says pollution from any breaches could be devastating to BC’s salmon and steelhead.
The group says the analysis isn’t intended to imply all the tailings facilities will fail at some point, but provides a note of caution given the increased interest in future mines in the north.
The study was started in the wake of the Mount Polley disaster last August near Likely which released 24 million cubic metres of silt and water into nearby lakes and streams.
The report calls for the creation of an industry bankrolled super fund to cover the emergency costs associated with disasters like Mount Polley.