Mount Polley highlights need for investment in mining safety: Mark Haddock

Environmental law professor Mark Haddock wants to see the government make more investments in mining safety in light of last year's tailings pond spill at the Mount Polley mine.

Professor of enivironmental law wants to see new money announced for mining invested in safety

The tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., released 10 billion litres of water and nearly 5 million cubic metres of metals-laden sand, contaminating lakes, creeks and rivers in the region. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Environmental law professor Mark Haddock wants to see the government make more investments in mining safety in light of last year's tailings pond spill at the Mount Polley mine.

The dam collapsed in August, sending nearly 5 million cubic metres of toxic sludge into Hazeltine Creek and Quesnel Lake.

An expert panel appointed to investigate the disaster will release its findings on Saturday, Jan. 31.

Haddock — who teaches at the University of Victoria's Environmental Law Centre — supervised a group of law students who submitted a report to the panel.

"One [issue] is the adequacy of the regulatory regime. Secondly, the responsiveness of government agencies to reports done by engineers on the dam and the responsiveness of the Mount Polley mining corporation as well," he told The Early Edition's Rick Cluff.

Haddock also said it isn't clear how the government acted when safety concerns were raised about the dam's construction prior to the spill.

"Government hasn't made the documentation available yet," he said.

Haddock has filed access to information requests for documents related to the spill, but hasn't received them. He said he hopes that information becomes public with the release of the report.

$6M in government funding announced

Premier Christy Clark announced the upcoming provincial budget would increase funding to the mining sector by an additional $6 million, bringing total funding to more than $20 million.

"We're increasing resources so that we have more boots on the ground, increasing inspections, making sure in light of what's happened at Mount Polley that we all recognize our greater responsibility to work together and ensure that mining is done safely," she said while speaking at the opening of the Association for Mineral Exploration BC's mineral roundup.

To hear the full interview with Mark Haddock, click the audio labelled: Mark Haddock on Mount Polley.

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