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It will take some time to determine the long-term environmental effects of the Mount Polley Mine tailings pond breach, according to a UNBC researcher familiar with the area.
Dr. Philip Owens, an associate professor in the school’s environmental science program, was one of the local academics headed out to UNBC’s Quesnel River Research Centre in Likely August 5.
“There’s a cascading effect of concerns here,” said Owens, who noted immediate questions regarding the amount of water, sediment and chemical introduced to Polley Lake, Hazeltine Creek and Quesnel Lake after the mine southeast of Quesnel suffered a rupture in its tailings pond dam Monday morning.
According to a statement by Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett, about 10 million cubic metres of water and 4.5 million cubic metres of sand were released, prompting the Cariboo Regional District to issue a precautionary ban on drinking or bathing in the water for the affected areas.
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