The BC Prosecution Service (BCPS) announced Tuesday that it has directed a stay of proceedings in the private prosecution relating to the dam failure at Mt. Polley Mines on August 4, 2014.
Former Chief of Xat’Sull First Nation, Bev Sellars filed privates charges on the 3 year anniversary of the breach last year alleging that Mount Polley had committed various offences contrary to the provincial Environmental Management Act and Mines Act.
BCPS says that after conducting its review, it concluded that the material provided does not meet the charge assessment standard for approval of charges.
“The decision, in this case, was made after a full and careful review of the information and
materials provided by counsel for the private informant, and with the awareness that a formal investigation into the Mt. Polley Mine incident is still ongoing,” BCPS stated in a media release.
Communications Counsel, Alisia Adams notes that BCPS policy generally does not permit a private prosecution to proceed, and when notice is received of the existence of a privately sworn information, the BCPS will usually assume the conduct of the prosecution or direct a stay of proceedings after making a charge assessment decision.
Sellars had filed charges under 15 counts: 10 under the BC Environmental Management Act and 5 under the BC Mines Act. Most charges related to the dumping of contaminated mining waste into the environment and surrounding waterways, and to poor and unsafe operational practices, allegedly in violations of multiple permit conditions and general provisions of both Acts and associated regulations.
“In my culture, we have a sacred responsibility not only to care for the land, waters, animals, and people living today, but also for the next seven generations to come.,” Sellars said in a media release when she filed the charges against Imperial Metals at the Provincial Court of British Columbia on the afternoon of August 4, 2017.
“I could not bear to witness BC simply stepping aside and giving up on its own responsibility to protect our shared environment and waters.”
There currently remains 20 months under Federal Law to lay environmental charges.
(Files from BC Prosecution Service and MiningWatch Canada)