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Mount Polley Disaster: Support for Xat’sull and Williams Lake Nations, Call for Public Inquiry and Mining Reform
Open Letter. September 29, 2014


Honourable Christy Clark
Premier of British Columbia
PO Box 9041
STN PROV GOVT
Victoria, BC, V8W 9E1
Via facsimile: (250) 387-1715

Honourable Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2
Fax: 613-941-6900

RE: OPEN LETTER regarding Union of BC Indian Chiefs Resolution 2014-17, “Support for Xat’sull and Williams Lake First Nations, Call for Public Inquiry and Mining Reform in the Aftermath of the Mount Polley Disaster”

Dear Premier Clark and Prime Minister Harper,

We are writing with respect to UBCIC Resolution 2014-17, “Support for Xat’sull and Williams Lake First Nations, Call for Public Inquiry and Mining Reform in the Aftermath of the Mount Polley Disaster” (enclosed) which was endorsed unanimously by the Chiefs-in-Assembly on September 18, 2014.

On August 4, 2014 the Mount Polley tailings pond breached and resulted in the worst mining disaster in British Columbia’s history. The breach resulted in 10 billion litres of contaminated water and 5 billion litres of solid tailings waste into Polley Lake, down Hazeltine Creek into Quesnel Lakes and River which directly connects to the Fraser River Watershed. As a result of this disastrous breach, significant concerns have been raised by local First Nations of the water quality, impacts to food fish and the surrounding ecosystem.

The Mount Polley disaster highlights the inadequacy of existing Provincial laws, regulations and policies with respect to mining in the Province, consequently, as per the enclosed resolution UBCIC calls on your governments to hold a full and thorough public inquiry to:
1. Bring about the full disclosure of the record of facts;
2. To understand the current inadequacy of existing provincial laws, regulations, standards, and policies with respect to mining in British Columbia; and
3. To facilitate significant mining reform in the Province of British Columbia.

Also troubling is the recent release of the 2010 safety inspection report of the Mount Polley dam which showed a significant crack in the structure that contains the toxic materials within the pond. It is with this resolution and the release of this frightening new information that we urgently call on your governments to move forward with a full public inquiry. We look forward to your immediate reply.


On behalf of the UNION OF BC INDIAN CHIEFS

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip
President

Chief Robert Chamberlin
Vice-President

Kukpi7 Judy Wilson
Secretary-Treasurer

CC: UBCIC Chiefs Council
Xat’sull First Nation
Williams Lake Indian Band


===============

UNION OF B.C. INDIAN CHIEFS
46TH ANNUAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY
SEPTEMBER 17TH – 19TH, 2014
XʷMƏΘKʷƏY̓ƏM (MUSQUEAM TERRITORY)

Resolution no. 2014-17

RE: Support for Xat’sull and Williams Lake First Nations, Call for Public Inquiry and Mining Reform in the aftermath of the Mount Polley Disaster

WHEREAS the Imperial Metals Mount Polley Mining operation is an open pit, low grade, large scale gold and copper mine;

WHEREAS on August 4, 2014 the Mount Polley tailings pond breached and resulted in the worst mining disaster in British Columbia’s history ;

WHEREAS the breach resulted in 10 billion litres of contaminated water and 5 billion litres of solid tailings waste into Polley Lake, down Hazeltine Creek into Quesnel Lake and River which directly connects to the Fraser River Watershed ;

WHEREAS the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples sets out:
Article 8 (2) (b): States shall provide effective mechanisms for prevention of and redress for any action which has the aim or effect of dispossessing them of their lands, territories or resources
Article 29: that Indigenous peoples have the right to the conservation and protection of the environment and the productive capacity of their lands or territories and resources

WHEREAS on August 6th, the Cariboo Regional District declared a local state of emergency in several nearby communities due to concerns over the quality of drinking water;

WHEREAS significant concerns have been raised by local citizens and First Nations of the water quality, impacts to food fish, salmon in particular and the surrounding ecosystem;

WHEREAS a Letter of Understanding was signed by the Provincial government and the Soda Creek Indian Band (Xat’sull First Nation) and Williams Lake Indian Band (T’exelc First Nation) which commits the parties to work in partnership to address the disaster;

WHEREAS the Mount Polley disaster highlights the inadequacy of existing Provincial laws, regulations and policies and discuss a new sustainable version of mining in B.C.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED the UBCIC Chiefs-in-Assembly support Soda Creek Indian Band (Xat’sull First Nation) and Williams Lake Indian Band (T’exelc First Nation) in the ongoing work required to address all aspects of the breach of the tailings storage facility that occurred at the Mount Polley Mine on August 4, 2014;

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED the UBCIC Chiefs-in-Assembly fully support the call for a full and thorough public inquiry into the August 4, 2014 Mount Polley tailings pond breach in order to:
1. Bring about the full disclosure of the record of facts;
2. To understand the current inadequacy of existing provincial laws, regulations, standards and policies with respect to mining in British Columbia; and
3. To facilitate significant mining reform in the Province of British Columbia.

Moved: Terry Dorward, Proxy, Tla-o-qui-aht
Seconded: Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, Neskonlith Indian Band
Disposition: Carried
Date: September 18th, 2014

UBCIC is a NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

 

 

 

 

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