Imperial Metals president Brian Kynoch faced the music on Tuesday, put in front of the citizens of Likely, B.C. after the Mount Polley Mine tailings pond breach sent waste water into Hazeltine Creek.
A water ban is now in force for all affected areas, which includes the Quesnel and Cariboo Rivers up to the Fraser.
“Now, until we do an investigation, I would be just speculating if I knew what failed,” said Kynoch. “It’s a bit of an anomaly to me, where it occurred… It will be a lot of investigation before we do have any answers.
“I apologize for what happened. If you would have asked me two weeks ago if that could have happened, I would have said, ‘It couldn’t happen.’ I know that, for our company, it’s going to take a long time to earn the community’s trust back.”
Kynoch called it a “gut-wrenching experience”. He also released a statement on Tuesday, apologizing for his delayed response after the breach occurred on BC Day on Monday.
The Watershed Watch Salmon Society estimates that 1.5 million migrating Fraser River sockeye salmon are destined for the contaminated Quesnel Lake, a fact that wasn’t lost on residents at Tuesday’s community meeting with Kynoch.
“This is a provincial, almost global… we’re talking the salmon of the entire planet going through this lake,” said Likely, B.C. resident Douglas Brassington to the Imperial Metals president.
“So, please address our water issue… Just remember, people are going to be drinking that water long after you’re gone.”
AUDIO: Imperial Metals president Brian Kynoch says he would drink the tailings pond water, via Shane Woodford (CKNW)
VIDEO: Fly-over of Mount Polley Mine tailings pond breach in Likely, B.C. (The Canadian Press)