Today's Local News: What happens when a mine has a catastrophic failure into a large river?

Red Arch

Active Member
At a mining school? Common sense would dictate that you're being misled in your education about "environmental sciences." Unless of course it's a mining school. Are they teaching you adaptive management theory and practices yet? Because now there's a great reason in your backyard.
No, in fact the focus is more forestry then anything

My main issue is the general public being "concerned" is more representative of "omg (insert worst case scenario here) is going to happen"

Yes precautionary/preventative measures need to be adopted, they were. A water use ban and a fishing closure were implemented, with sampling after that.

If the people making decisions and sampling panic, mistakes get made. It does no good on either front if the public goes into mass hysteria, as the pressure just mounts and makes their jobs harder.

And yes I would drink that water, considering its only going to dilute as particles go downstream.

Ed Call

Well-Known Member
Red Arch, formulate your own passive opinion, good on you.
For heavens sakes, that tailing pond dumped a metric butt ton of waste products into the ecosystem. Not trace amounts like what may naturally occur. Massive quantities...this was not some drunk pissing in the river.
The food web of Quesnel Lake is going to be effected for a very long time because of this ecological disaster if there is no staunching of the flow of sediments. They disperse on the gravel beaches and deep crags.

Quesnel Lake is a natural wonder and is 2000 feet deep in places, very little is know about its depths other than there is most likely heavy sediments from hydraulic mining down deep. The whole area was sluiced heavily in starting 1900 by the Consolidated Cariboo Mining Co. They created Polley Lake and Bootjack Lake with dams to send enough water at high head pressure over many miles to hydraulic mine an ancient river channel. This activity sent placer mining sediments with less heavy metal content all the way down the Quesnel River and down the Fraser during the Sockeye and Chinook migrations which almost wiped out the fish runs. They were just starting to recover then this happens. So you can understand why the Natives of the area are getting their back up about this, they know understand our environmental stupidity and have dealt with it constantly for very many years.

The damage from this current assault on the environment could be over a very long period of time. The toxic sediments that disperse into deeper water habitat is going to effect the reproductive capacity of Salvelinus namaycush (Lake Trout) and Salvelinus confluentus (Bull Trout). Which spawn in rock crags deeper than other fish.

It is entirely possible that there will be explosions of Ptychocheilus oregonensis (Northern Pikeminnow) and other course fish that they predate upon. We have already seen almost extinction level reductions of local populations of Bull Trout in other rivers and lakes in BC. and in these places the Northern Pikeminnow populations have exploded because most piscivorous large Rainbow Trout do not predated on them for some reason which is not well understood. But the mature Northern Pikeminnow certainly does predate upon Rainbow Trout and other species fry.

The beach spawning Sockeye and Kokanee will be effected the most but how this will effect the O. mykiss (rainbow) populations is debatable.

BUT because the mature rainbow in Quesnel Lake are very piscivorous and predate largely upon sculpin, sockeye, and kokanee fry, the effects on these river spawners will be not seen as much until they start to starve. Which is what happens in the off years on the Adams Lake and Adams river system when the sockeye run is low. More over the fry populations might also begin to starve if the aquatic insect and other critter populations of the lake are seriously effected.

In short the outlook is very grim for sport fishing and the large food fishery on this system if the habitat is destroyed by this mine dam break.

Rob Zelk

I swing, therefore i am.
I'm so sorry for those who live up there and another beautiful place tainted with toxicity. So sad. I don't know why they aren't required to make all concrete dams instead of these land berms that often end in events like this. Those contaminants are going to be around a long time. I would be worried about all those who live there and well contamination for quite some time, but I'm just a carpenter and have watched Erin Brockovich a couple to many times.