News Local

Mount Polley spill could hit salmon run

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

Part of the Mount Polley mining spill. (CARIBOO REGIONAL DISTRICT)

Part of the Mount Polley mining spill. (CARIBOO REGIONAL DISTRICT)

A good portion of this year’s sockeye run could be affected by the massive tailings pond spill at Mount Polley this week, according to officials.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada isn’t sure exactly how salmon would be affected by Monday’s spill, which according to Imperial Metals Ltd., consists of non-acidic alkaline tailings.

But on Wednesday, it said the sockeye — between 845,000 to 2.95 million fish — are “currently migrating” towards the Quesnel Lake system.

It’s a significant chunk of B.C.’s sockeye run, which typically sees about 23 million fish come back during spawning season.

“Fisheries and Oceans Canada will be closely monitoring the salmon run as it approaches the Quesnel system over the coming days to assess the potential effects of these pollutants and other factors including water temperature on salmon returns,” the DFO said in a statement.

The DFO has already banned fishing in portions of the Cariboo and Quenel rivers because of the spill.

Meanwhile, a state of emergency has been declared in the Cariboo Regional District “in order to access additional capacity that may be necessary to further protect the private property and government infrastructure in the town of Likely,” said the district’s emergency operations centre Wednesday.

The B.C. premier’s office said by email Christy Clark is being kept abreast of the situation but “does not want to be a distraction from the emergency response efforts.”

The spokesperson said she will have more to say in coming days. 


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