On August 24, an emergency containment pond at the Coalmont Energy Corporation Coal Mine was breached, sending approximately 6500 gallons of coal slurry into the Tulameen River.
The next morning, residents of Coalmont began to notice that the river was turning black, raising much concern about the water supply and the health of fish and the Tulameen River.
On the 28 of August, a public service announcement was released from Interior Health stating that, “Interior Health wishes to advise areas residents that there is little or no impact to drinking water sources in the Coalmont and Tulameen areas as a result of the recent tailings spill breach from the Basin Coal Mine.”
On Friday, August 30 Coalmont Energy Corporation hosted a public information session at the Tulameen Community Hall.
Representatives from the Ministry of Environment, Interior Health and Mines Inspection were on hand to answer questions. MLA Jackie Tegart and Area H Director Brad Hope attended the information session as well.
Approximately 50 people attended.
The president of Coalmont Energy Corporation, Kerry Leong began the evening by apologizing for the lack of communication with the community. “I’m sorry we were so slow in community communication, I take responsibility, and apologize”.
Leong explained that the company was “focussed on stopping the spillage.”
Allan McGowan, mine manager, Leong and the other representatives from the mine then went on to answer questions from the public.
What effect will this have on the fish/river?
“We don’t have all the different answers said Keith Meldrum, communications officer, “We are waiting for study results, but we believe that there should be no harmful effects.”
Local Bert Rice asked if the water would be safe for his cattle—including over time. Again the response included awaiting results, but that “for now the water had been given a clean bill of health.”
The largest priority for the company now is clean up. The clean up effort will go “as far as necessary, said McGowan.”
An August 31, Coalmont Energy released a community update which included: “The Shoreline Cleanup and Assessment Techniques report and associated recommendations are being completed by Quantum Murray LP, one of the leading abatement and remediation service companies in Canada. Triton Environmental Consultants and SLR Global Environmental Services, both leading firms in the environmental consulting field, have been retained to complete the detailed Environmental Impact Assessment and provide expertise and direction the appropriate clean-up efforts that will take place.”