Group calls for government inspections of Sask. mine ponds

On the heels of one the the worst spill disasters in Canadian history, some people Saskatchewan are worried how protected this province is from mine water breaches.

Mining companies currently hire independent consultants and present those reports to government

A aerial view shows the damage caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C. Tuesday, August, 5, 2014. The pond which stores mining waste from the Mount Polley Mine had its dam break on Monday spilling its contents into Hazeltine Creek, Polley Lake, and Quesnel Lake, causing a wide water-use ban in the area. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

On the heels of one the the worst spill disasters in Canadian history, some people in Saskatchewan are worried about how this province protects and regulates tailings ponds.

It comes after the Mount Polley Mine tailings pond wall collapsed in B.C. Water, contaminated from years of mining, is flowing into nearby lakes and rivers.

In Saskatchewan, mining companies hire consultants for tailings pond inspections. Those reports are passed on to the Ministry of Environment for review.

Peter Prebble of the Saskatchewan Environmental Society said he would prefer the government do its own inspections of the tailings ponds and not rely solely on the company’s reports.

“There's been a real tendency in Saskatchewan to encourage self regulation by companies, in other words, to encourage them to take more responsibility for ensuring that regulations are met. I'm worried that we're moving too far in that direction,” he said.

In B.C.,  a total of 10 billion litres of water and 4.5 million cubic metres of metal-laden sand has leaked out of the tailings ponds.

Government officials last warned the company of a possible failure of the pond walls in May. It has done 14 inspections since 2012.

A number of B.C. communities are facing bans on swimming in, drinking and cooking with water.