This afternoon we received a press release from Coalmont Energy Corporation. They’ve answered most of the questions about what really happened, and are promising results of water sampling. Here is what they write:
August 27, 2013
Late in the afternoon of Saturday, August 24th, a small tailings spill of approximately 30m3 (6,500 gallons) breached an emergency containment pond, making it’s way to Collins Gulch and ultimately to the Tulameen River. The spill was the result of emergency repairs to the coal processing plant thus requiring parts of the plant to be evacuated of water. Under normal operations, all water used in the Basin Coal Mine plant is fully self-contained with no water leaving the plant site as it is all recycled and re-used in the plant processing operations.
As soon as mine staff was aware of the spill, the emergency response plan was activated, mitigation efforts were initiated, and the Ministry of Energy and Mines and the Ministry of Environment were contacted and advised of the incident.
As a result of this spill, some of the Tulameen River downstream of Collins Gulch became discoloured. This discolouration was a result of a small amount of carbon in the tailings, as well as the turbidity caused by the clay particles. In addition, slight amounts of carbon do tend to turn the surroundings black. Though this event created a strong visual impact, fortunately due to the high quality of coal being mined at the Basin Mine, and the state of the art processing technology in use, the environmental effects were minimized. As coal is a significantly minor percentage of the overall tailings material with the majority being standard soils and other products found in soil materials, it is believed that this event will have no significant environmental impact on the Tulameen River.
Coalmont Energy Corp. is working closely with Interior Health regarding issues of water quality. Interior Health will be providing independent analysis and updates on this issue but due to the small amount of coal contained in the tailings, it is believed that wells have not been affected by this event. For those that obtain their drinking water directly from the Tulameen River, it is anticipated that the river has flushed clear but if water appears to be discoloured, it is recommended that residents use bottled water until the water runs clear.
Basin Coal Mine staff are working very closely with the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Energy and Mines staff investigating the incident, including water quality monitoring and testing. Ministry officials have completed their initial on-site investigation and have advised that once the plant repairs have been completed and their recommendations implemented, the mine can go back into full operation. No employees of the Basin Coal Mine have been laid off as a result of this event.
Coalmont Energy Corp. will provide further updates and the results of water sampling. §