Imperial Metals launches lawsuit over Mt. Polley dam breach

by Keith Powell
Aerial view of the Mount Polley Mine tailings pond collapse.

Aerial view of the Mount Polley Mine tailings pond collapse. — Photo courtesy Mt Polley/Imperial Metals

Imperial Metals, owners of the Mount Polley mine in B.C.’s Interior, has launched a legal suit against two Vancouver-based engineering firms for damages over the August 2014 tailings pond dam collapse which spilled 24 million cubic metres of debris and waste water into a nearby lake, according to a report by Canadian Press.

Imperial Metals filed a long expected lawsuit in B.C. Supreme Court alleging negligence and breach of contract by both engineering firms Knight Piesold and AMEC, which is now Amec Foster Wheeler.

The Supreme Court of B.C. lawsuit alleges the flawed tailings storage facility in question was designed and monitored by Knight Piesold from the late 1980s to 2011, and then by AMEC until its collapse in August 2014.

“Each of the defendants failed to undertake necessary, proper and reasonable investigation of the subsurface conditions underlying the (tailings storage facility) prior to and during its phased construction and operation,” the lawsuit stated.

The lawsuit further alleges the tailings storage facility had an inadequate safety standard, despite both companies repeatedly providing Imperial Metals with reports that claimed it was safe.

“The conduct of each of the defendants was negligent, was in breach of the applicable contracts and caused the ultimate failure of the (facility),” stated Imperial Metals in their legal submission.

The Mount Polley mine remained closed, until its recent re-opening at the end of June 2016. It has been widely reported that Imperial has spent some $60 to $70 million on remediation alone, not to mention the lack of production for almost two years.

None of the allegations has been proven in court and neither of the companies has filed a statement of defence. 

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