This piece by Cara MacKenna at Rabble.ca discusses how Canada’s weak environmental laws prevent wildlife response teams from doing their job in the wake of disasters such as the Mount Polley spill.
(Photo credit: The Canadian Press, Jonathan Hayward)
Despite suspected ongoing impact to animals where the Mount Polley Mine breached several weeks ago, professional wildlife response teams can’t get in to assess the area.
It is believed that chemicals still in the environment from the spill — which released millions of cubic metres of potentially toxic waste into central B.C. waterways — could impact millions of birds, among other animals in the area.
Exasperated responders say it is just a piece of a much larger problem that will only grow with the economy’s reliance on natural resource development: wildlife has zero protection under Canadian environmental legislation.
“There’s no regulation, there’s no laws, we can’t even get in the door to see what’s happened to the wildlife,” said Oiled Wildlife Society vice-president Coleen Doucette, who has been working to establish globally recognized standards in wildlife response for over 20 years.
“I don’t think the Canadian public is necessarily aware of this.”
The B.C. Ministry of Environment said in a statement that wildlife responders aren’t allowed into the area around the mine breach because there is still an unstable plug at the base of Polley Lake. Until it is dealt with, “no one can safety set foot in the debris flow area because of the danger of another release.”
“It is believed there are minimal implications to the wildlife population in the area,” the statement said, adding that wildlife biologists will eventually be allowed in. To read the full article, click here.