Water ban after B.C. tailings pond breach

A view of a spill that occurred in a mining company's tailings pond in Quesnel, B.C. (Cariboo...

A view of a spill that occurred in a mining company's tailings pond in Quesnel, B.C. (Cariboo Regional District photo/Supplied)

David Ball, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:45 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- A massive breach in a copper and gold mine's tailings pond near Quesnel, B.C., Monday has flooded the adjacent river with five million cubic metres of what a senior official called "slurry" -- forcing a ban on residents drinking and bathing in the area's water.

Cariboo Regional District officials said emergency crews are scrambling to assess the damage and find the cause of the spill, which occurred at 3 a.m. from Imperial Metals Ltd.'s Mount Polley Mine.

"Our main concern is the water supply," Cariboo Regional District chair Al Richmond told QMI Agency. "That's what the tailings ponds are for, to contain those types of heavy metals, you never want those types of materials in the water system."

Federal data on the project show the company significantly increased its on-site storage of toxins such as arsenic, mercury and lead in the past two years.


Photos