From the Vancouver Sun, today.
It was wonderful to see today the impact that the students and Tula-sponsored faculty at the University of Victoria Environmental Law Centre is having on important areas of policy in British Columbia.
Here are excerpts from the article: Link to the full article here.
Expert panel investigating Mount Polley tailings dam collapse receives 24 submissions
Issues raised include dam design and government oversight of mine inspection process
Two submissions to an expert panel appointed to investigate the tailings dam collapse at Imperial Metals’ Mount Polley mine have raised issues of poor dam design and deficiencies in the inspection of mines and enforcement of regulations.
The 47-page UVic law centre report — entitled Not an Act of God raises concerns about the role of government oversight and the B.C. government’s reliance on professionals who are employed by the mine to conduct inspections.
The report, authored by UVic law students, said it was important the panel “recognize that engineering design, mining operations and regulatory oversight issues are not merely questions of physical causation but occur within a legal and regulatory context that govern behaviour.”
The report said a key problem is the B.C. government relies on the expertise and diligence of professional engineers to inspect and report, but gives them no power or authority to require that the mining operation make changes.
The report said the problem is compounded by a lack of timely followup by government. It pointed to the lack of action on fixing dam instrumentation and problems with dam construction at Mount Polley raised in inspection reports between 2008 and 2010.
“There needs to be a legally effective mechanism for these recommendations to be followed; failure to do so should have a legal consequence and should be considered non-compliance,” said the report.
The UVic law centre recommended following the example of oversight at contaminated sights, where a roster of qualified people appointed by government, and at arm’s length of the companies, conduct inspections and reports.
“I’m looking forward to what the independent panel comes up with, what they decide,” said UVic law instructor Mark Haddock, who supervised the student’s project under the auspices of the environmental law centre.
“There may well be lessons from Mount Polley that go well beyond mining,” noted Haddock.