Fish near Mount Polley safe to eat: B.C. authorities

The B.C. government says fish around the Mount Polley mine are fish to eat. (FILE PHOTO)

The B.C. government says fish around the Mount Polley mine are fish to eat. (FILE PHOTO)

Michael Mui, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:55 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- Most of the water restrictions around the Mount Polley tailings pond spill have been lifted and the government says fish in many areas are now safe to eat.

That's despite just having ordered the First Nations Health Authority to conduct tissue samples of salmon in the area -- where results aren't expected until later this week.

Dr. Trevor Corneil with the Interior Health Authority said on Tuesday that most of Quesnel Lake -- apart from 100 metres surrounding sediment clouded areas -- and all waterways downstream from Quesnel have been cleared from the "do not use" advisory.

He said the additional tests -- which will see officials catch fish using traditional First Nations methods for testing -- are to "add to the body of knowledge" government already has.

"I have no reason to believe this water was ever exposed to unsafe levels of contaminants of the mine breach," Corneil said.

Upstream, from Hazeltine Creek up to Polley Lake, including the tailings pond, is still considered unsafe.

Meanwhile, Minister of Environment Mary Polak told reporters most of the water tests have come back clean. However, there was one location considered a "worst-case scenario," where there were elevated levels of contaminants both to humans and fish.

The water in that sample was found between the Hazeltine and Raft creeks.

"That specific example showed slightly elevated levels of phosphorous and aluminum -- when compared to drinking water guidelines; and elevated levels of copper, chromium, phosphorous and aluminum for aquatic life guidelines," Polak said.

"This is not in any way indicative of water quality in Quesnel Lake."

Minister of Energy and Mines Bill Bennett added that there was no sign of ongoing construction at the tailings pond breach site.

AMEC, engineer of record for the pond dam, said earlier this week construction to raise the dam was not complete prior to the breach.

"Nothing in the area where the breach was, but I reserve the possibility that through the investigation, it may turn out there was work," Bennett said.


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