·  Vancouver Sun

Unions, First Nations Seek 'Whistleblower' Protection During Mount Polley Dam Collapse Probes

By Gordon Hoekstra, Vancouver Sun

Investigations underway into cause of tailings dam collapse, possible regulatory factors

Unions representing government inspectors and engineers and Mount Polley mine workers, supported by First Nations, called on the B.C. government Wednesday to provide “whistleblower” protection to workers who provide information to an expert panel appointed by the government.

The three-member expert engineering panel recently made an unusual call for public submission on the cause of Imperial Metals’ Mount Polley gold and copper mine tailings dam collapse.

The collapse on Aug. 4 at the mine in the Central Interior released millions of cubic metres of water and tailings containing potentially toxic metals. The spill, among the largest in the world in the past 50 years, sparked widespread concerns about the long-term effects on the Quesnel Lake watershed and has put intense scrutiny on tailings dam safety in British Columbia.

“Unless your government provides immediate protection to employees to speak freely about the disaster, there is a real risk that the panel will not obtain all the evidence it needs to do its job properly,” the parties said in a letter to Premier Christy Clark dated Wednesday.

The letter was signed by representatives of the B.C. Government Employees Union, Professional Employees Association, United Steelworkers, Williams Lake Indian Band, the Xatsull First Nation (Soda Creek Indian Band) and the University of Victoria Environmental Law Centre.

Complete article in The Vancouver Sun

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