Saturday, 9 August 2014

The Mount Polley Mine disaster.

I'm still in shock at the incredible demonstration of corporate malfeasance and greed as well as the provincial government's abdication of its obligation to act as the watchdog for the public good in the case of the Mount Polley Mine disaster.  The headline to this linked article reads:

Mount Polley Mine tailings pond dam stable: Imperial Metals

Meaning, the bathtub is now empty.  No further cause for concern here, people.

The company president Brian Kynoch gives the corporate-speak meaningless statement that they "take full responsibility", but immediately goes on that:

"The dam is an independently engineered structure (emphasis mine) that operated within design limits and specifications. Monitoring instruments and onsite personnel had no indication of an impending breach," the company said.

Meaning: "We didn't build the thing, just accepted the lowest bid from a contractor."

How's that for pre-lawsuit manoeuvring?

Meanwhile, B.C. Energy and Mines Minister and industry lapdog Bill Bennett had this nugget for us to weigh:

"We will determine the cause of the event and we are determined to prevent an incident like this from happening again," Bennett said in a statement.

Meaning: "But not so determined as we were before in our assurances to everyone that this kind of disaster could never happen."

I would love to be able to read the public consultation process notes before this mine was allowed to open, when concerned citizens who raised objections were probably dismissed as cranks and tree-huggers by the company and ministerial staff.

I'm sure their fears of a tailings spill were poo-poohed, with insiders exasperatedly claiming that a breach was impossible, the dam would be "over-engineered", there would be sensor equipment, monitoring staff, etc.  And once the project was pushed through, and profits were paramount, not safety or the preservation of nature or job-creation as previously claimed, standards slowly dropped.  Sensor equipment was allowed to fail and not repaired.  Maintenance on the dam fell off.  Training and staffing levels dropped, because operating costs detract from bottom line results.

But that's what we get with Christy Clark's neo-con cabal of a 'Liberal' government.  She rode to power with a very passé campaign platform plank of "Blame the unions!", but business is given free rein to run amok.  Her ideals that industries should self-regulate lead us to these situations, where mine inspector staffing levels are cut back, and their powers are curtailed.

This dam was inspected years ago and warnings were issued, but there were no penalties for non-compliance.  Because it's more important to "get government off our backs" and to "cut red tape" than for the government to actually serve its function, which is to protect citizens and the common good from rapacious individuals and corporations.

So get your bloated corrupt face smudged with charcoal all you want Christy, you're already covered with it, you're in it up to your neck.

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