Soda Creek Indian Band (SCIB) staff toured the ongoing remediation work on Hazeltine and Edney Creek on September 29, 2020.
The remediation is due to a tailings storage facility dam breach that started on Aug. 4, 2014, and released tailings into Polley Lake, Hazeltine Creek, Quesnel Lake and River.
In total, they’ve removed approximately 75-80 per cent of the tailings from the Hazeltine Creek area according to Gabriel Holmes, who works in the Environmental Department of the Mount Polley Mining Corporation. After the tailings were removed the creek was reconstructed and the terrestrial sites were given a “rough and loose” surficial texture, coarse woody debris was dispersed and habitat features were installed.
Much of the work on the upper portion of Hazeltine Creek was completed in 2016 and 2017 and has had three to four growing seasons at this point, says Holmes. Trout could be seen going down into the upper part of Hazeltine Creek from Polley Lake. The area has also seen wildlife return, according to Holmes, noting they’ve primarily spotted a lot of bears but also some moose and lynx, among other things. During the remediation at upper Hazeltine Creek and the Polley “flats” area, they removed and re-located approximately 78,000 amphibians in various stages of life, according to Holmes.
Much of the lower parts of Hazeltine and Edney Creek were still under construction with most of the aquatic work having been done in the past few months. Sockeye salmon went up Edney Creek for spawning last year, says Holmes, adding that daily salmon inspections were completed during the 2020 construction season and no salmon were observed. It is hoped that Interior Fraser River Coho Salmon will utilize the system later this fall.
Some tailings, however, have been left in Quesnel Lake.
There are plans for reseeding and replanting the lower Hazeltine and Edney Creek area coming up. They’re also considering adding an education component in the area, according to Holmes.
Remediation continues at Mt Polley Mine site (PDF)