Amnesty International Canada

Pull the pipes
from Quesnel Lake

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Government of British Columbia

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Mount Polley needs to stop polluting Quesnel Lake 

In 2020, the BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy approved a new permit to allow the Mount Polley mine to keep discharging mine waste water into Quesnel Lake until the end of 2022. The Mount Polley 2014 tailings dam disaster has had long-term consequences for those who rely on Quesnel Lake - or Yuct Ne Senixymetkwe in the Secwepemc language - for food, livelihoods and cultural practices.  

Indigenous peoples and area residents continue to call on the province and Imperial Metals to pull the discharge pipes from Quesnel Lake. The Concerned Citizens of Quesnel Lake (CCQL) are urging Amnesty activists to support the call to protect Quesnel Lake from further industrial contamination.  

Let the BC government and those responsible for Mount Polley know that it’s time to live up to their obligations to protect Indigenous rights, support communities and safeguard water

“Addressing the harms caused by the Mount Polley mine disaster is a small part of what the Province must do to safeguard the collective rights of Indigenous peoples to our lands and cultures”  - Bev Sellars, acclaimed author and former Chief of the Xats’ull Indian Band

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The 2014 Mount Polley mine disaster in British Columbia’s Cariboo region, also known as Secwepemeculecw, was a devastating reminder of what can go wrong when governments fail to suitably regulate companies. The copper mine’s tailings pond collapse led to the destruction of Hazeltine Creek – a fish-bearing creek - and contamination of the western basin of Quesnel Lake. Remediation efforts did not remove toxic tailings sediment from the lake, leading locals to fear for their health and that of the fish and aquatic life in the lake. Scientists at the University of Northern British Columbia have reported on changes to the wester basin waters since the disaster.   

In 2017, to compound matters and frustrate locals who opposed it, the province issued the company a permit to pipe untreated, filtered mine wastewater into Quesnel Lake until 2022. Residents and Indigenous peoples have been fighting to have the discharge pipes removed from Quesnel Lake and for the Province to compel the company to implement on-site wastewater treatment.  

Two United Nations bodies, the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights and the Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, have since highlighted the Mount Polley mine disaster and called on Canada to bring those responsible for the disaster to justice and provide remedy to those who were harmed. Living in a healthy environment is integral to enjoying a range of universal human rights. Canadians expect all levels of government to uphold their human rights obligations.  

Shockingly, despite these recommendations and a criminal investigation lasting four years, the government of Canada has not taken legal action.  

To learn more about the human rights impacts of the 2014 Mount Polley mine disaster on Yuct Ne Senixymetkwe or Quesnel Lake and area residents, please visit our website

Discharge pipes in Quesnel Lake

The BC government gave the mining company a permit to dump untreated, filtered mine wastewater into the lake until 2022. 



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