Engineers and Geoscientist BC (EGBC) released Disciplinary findings involving two individuals connected with the 2014 breach of the tailings storage facility at Mount Polley Mine.
Former engineer Stephen Rice and engineer Laura Fidel were found to have demonstrated unprofessional conduct in the course of their work at the mine according to a news release yesterday.
A Discipline Hearing Panel found Rice failed to properly fulfill the role of review engineer, demonstrated unprofessional conduct by allowing a junior engineer (Fidel) who had little experience with embankment design, to act as Engineer of Record for the project, failed to ensure sufficient observation and monitoring of the tailings dam, failed to document his review work, and failed to ensure an excavation left unfilled at the toe of the embankment was assessed to determine what impact it may have had on the stability of the embankment.
A Discipline Hearing Panel for the EGBC fined Rice $25,000, the maximum available at the time, and he also agreed to pay $107,500 in legal costs to Engineers and Geoscientists BC.
Rice resigned his engineering license in January 2018 and is no longer permitted to practice professional engineering in BC.
The EGBC added that a separate Discipline Hearing Panel found Fidel failed to ensure sufficient observation and monitoring of the tailings dam while acting as Engineer of Record, including by failing to ensure sufficient site visits and failing to monitor seepage flows which could provide evidence of a potentially unsafe condition within the embankments.
Fidel also failed to ensure that an excavation left unfilled at the toe of the embankment was assessed to determine what impact it may have on the stability of the embankment, and demonstrated unprofessional conduct by sealing drawings for the Stage 9 embankment raise without undertaking sufficient review of the design which was not prepared by her.
A number of other allegations against her were dismissed by the panel and a penalty hearing has not yet been scheduled in Fidel’s case.
A disciplinary hearing for a third individual is scheduled to proceed later this year.
The allegations in that case have not been proven.