A breach in a tailings pond from the open-pit Mount Polley copper and gold mine sent five million cubic meters (1.3 billion gallons) ofslurry gushing into Hazeltine Creek in B.C. That’s the equivalent of 2,000 Olympic swimming pools of waste, the CBC reports. Tailings ponds from mineral mines store a mix of water, chemicals and ground-up minerals left over from mining operations.
The flow of the mining waste, which can contain things like arsenic, mercury, and sulfur, uprooted trees on its way to the creek and forced a water ban for about 300 people who live in the region. That number could grow, as authorities determine just how far the waste has traveled. The cause of the breach is still unknown.
Tailings ponds — both from mineral mines like the one in B.C. and from tar sands mining operations — pose risks that reach beyond the threat of spills. Tar sands tailings ponds can be deadly for birds that land on them, mistaking them for bodies of water. Earlier this year, a study found that about 200,000 birds land on tailings ponds every year, despite oil companies’ attempts to keep them off. Another study this year found that toxic water from tar sands tailings ponds in Alberta was leaching into groundwater and polluting the Athabasca River.
I have to ask everyone, are you surprised? Visit the article and watch the frightening video of the breach that washed out roads, killed wild life, etc. It was not the first spill they have experienced but it is the worse. Officials said they are going to have a hard time contracting all their citizens to warn them about the long term health hazards. So much beauty and wild life is being destroyed each day we look away.When are we going to learn that fracking tarsands is just a bad plan which will cost us most of the North America water supply and our land?