Although recent water samples from Hazeltine Creek show elevated concentrations of chemical elements including arsenic and lead, the Ministry of Environment says the results are consistent with previous samples and that water located outside the impact area remains safe to drink.
Hubert Bunce, Acting Director of Mount Polley Operations Environmental Protection with the Ministry of Environment, shares why the results collected at different sites and depths at Hazeltine Creek do not pose a concern to residents within the area.
“Again it’s a long way from any sort of human consumption. The areas near Likely show levels that are well within drinking water standards.”
Water sample results from Quesnel Lake, indicate elevated levels of phosphorus, aluminum, iron, and manganese.
The Ministry of Environment stresses, however, that according to Health Canada, there is no adverse health effects for these elements at levels above drinking water guidelines and adds that these exceedances can occur naturally in areas where mines are located.
As for a fish from Hazeltine Creek that had high levels of lead, Bunce explains.
“These are very small fish and to sample them they basically put them in a blender. We’re wondering if there was some sort of lead contamination that caused this particular 1 single fish out of 71 to have a result that was so much higher than all the others. It’s a very odd result but all the other results show lead levels are well within acceptable range.”
Bunce says the high lead result could have been also caused by the fish ingesting of a small lead weight used on the equipment to catch it.
The water and fish tissue samples were collected between Sept. 18 and Oct. 15.