Two meetings will provide Likely residents with updates this week on the now five-month old Mount Polley Mine Breach.
A meeting scheduled Thursday, Jan. 15, will be a dedicated opportunity for the Soda Creek First Nation and Williams Lake Indian Band to share concerns with Likely residents, said registered biologist Richard Holmes.
Holmes has lived in the Likely area 40 years and done fisheries work in the region since 1981.
He was hired as a consultant for the Soda Creek First Nation prior to the mine breach to look after the band’s mining exploration file.
“We have different outlooks and different expectations than the mine and the government do,” Holmes said. “I think all three communities — Soda Creek, Williams Lake Indian Band and Likely — are very disappointed in the level of action.”
Mine and government officials haven’t been invited to the meeting, although Holmes said he anticipates mine employees will attend because many are Likely residents.
Holmes and seven technical experts who have been working together with the First Nations since the mine breach will share information at Thursday’s meeting.
“Nobody was obviously prepared for this level of disaster and it’s starting to show after five months,” Holmes said. “There has to be more reaction to a disaster of this scope in the future.”
Thursday’s meeting takes place at 5 p.m. at the Likely Hall.
Another meeting was hosted Tuesday, Jan. 13, by Mount Polley Mine Corporation, also at the Likely Hall.
In advance of the meeting, MPMC vice-president of corporate affairs Steve Robertson said he planned to detail all the work that’s been done since the breach.
“In the initial stages, you do an awful lot of work but it’s hard to see any difference,” Robertson said. “Now it’s at the point where you go away for two weeks and so much has been done.”
The sediment ponds completed at the site last month are releasing non-turbid water into Quesnel Lake from Hazeltine Creek, Robertson said.
Excavation work at the breach site has stripped away material to solid ground and now crews are rebuilding it.
“We’ll see all the material for the breach repair placed quite quickly and anticipate doing the cut-off wall sometime in February,” he said. “Bentonite, a plastic cement, will be added to the clay for the cut-off wall so it will have some give to it.”
Robertson said the turbidity in Quesnel Lake has been falling and there’s been a “good flush” of the lake during the last month.
“Hopefully the worst is behind us,” he added.
Holmes said Tuesday that Quesnel Lake continues to look creamy, although the level of sediment has subsided.
“We don’t know if it’s a trend or perhaps it will continue to go down or whether or not it’s just a variance in the amount of sediment that’s leaving the lake right now,” he said.