Ministry downplaying threats to salmon

The Mount Polley mine tailings spill is extremely serious

I read with interest the article Mount Polley mine tailings spill raises fears for Fraser salmon published in The Hope Standard on Aug. 7, 2014.

The wild salmon of British Columbia face another threat of survival with the breach of the Imperial Mines tailings pond. Though there is currently no data on whether the toxic water and sediment will impact wild salmon, I have years of experience with government downplaying serious threats to wild salmon such as salmon farms. The current situation raises red flags for me.

For years, scientists in BC Ministry of Environment, such as Dr. Dave Narver, warned the federal and provincial governments that diseases from salmon farms were killing wild salmon, government did nothing and so European viruses are being detected. It is the same in this case. The company and government knew the pond was overfilling – what was the plan on getting water levels down?  Was there a plan? Was this the plan?

Unbelievably,  government told the public the water is safe, while scientists report that the samples were taken too far from the impacted areas. I encourage the people of B.C. to make sure samples of the tailings pond are independently tested. If I had not tested wild salmon for European salmon viruses, we would not know they are here. First Nation leaders, who appear to have a greater sense of responsibility towards human health have closed the salmon fisheries in the region of the mining spill to protect the health of the people. This is extremely serious, this is a vital food resource and foundation of their culture.

We have to stand together, do the work and bring government back to us.

Alexandra Morton