Indigenous advocate files charges against Imperial Metals over biggest mining spill in Canada

By Amy Chen

Indigenous advocate Bev Sellars filed private charges against Mount Polley Mining Corporation (Imperial Metals) at the Provincial Court of British Columbia this afternoon in Vancouver, as victims mark the third anniversary of the Mt Polley Mine disaster and the time limit to file charges under BC laws.

Sellars was acting Chief of Xat’sull First Nation when the disaster struck near her community on August 4, 2014.

This legal action comes after the newly elected BC government announced earlier this week it would not file charges before the August 4 deadline, stating that “an investigation was still ongoing,” and calling on the federal government to enforce the federal Fisheries Act in the matter – a move that has drawn heavy criticism from environmentalists and human rights defenders.

“We just couldn’t let it go. In my culture, we have a sacred responsibility not only to care for the land, waters, animals, and people living today, but also for the next seven generations to come,” Bev Sellars said. “I could not bear to witness BC simply stepping aside and giving-up on its own responsibility to protect our shared environment and waters,”

Sellars filed charges under 15 counts: 10 under the BC Environmental Management Act and 5 under the BC Mines Act. Most charges relate to the dumping of contaminated mining waste into the environment and surrounding waterways, and to poor and unsafe operational practices, allegedly in violations of multiple permit conditions and general provisions of both Acts and associated regulations.

Sellars believes her action could be a test for BC laws: “If BC laws cannot be enforced when such a massive mining spill occurs, then we have a serious problem in BC and we must act to fix these laws.”

The grandmother of 3 also hopes her action can act as a ‘door stopper,’ buying some more time for everyone involved, including the Province to complete its investigation and potentially carry over Sellars’ charges beyond today’s deadline. Sellars: “While we are ready to go to full trial if necessary, we also believe it is ultimately the Province’s job to enforce its own laws when they are violated.”

This legal action is supported by MiningWatch Canada, West Coast Environmental Law’s Environmental Dispute Resolution Fund, the Wilderness Committee, and the First Nation Women Advocating For Responsible Mining.

One Response to Indigenous advocate files charges against Imperial Metals over biggest mining spill in Canada

  1. Bob says:

    Should evidence be presented in court under oath it would become apparent that there is not a formula to design these retention ponds but there is the study of prior art. The number of failures on a global scale would leave no doubt that a great many retention ponds are inadequate.
    It is time to start looking for money in brown bags.

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