Archive for the ‘British Columbia’ Category


The web says the report from Morgenstern, Vick, and Van Zyl (MVV) on Mt Polley will be release on Saturday.  Apparently the report goes to the British Columbia Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM) and the affected First Nations on Friday.  We, the common herd, will have to wait a day while they read the report and prepare statements.  We hope it is but twenty-four hours we have to wait while they circle the wagons.  Strange they cannot release the report to the public at the same time as the release to the First Nations and MEM. Of course they do not trust the common herd.  British imperial secrecy and elite class instincts dictate otherwise.

Today I was asked: “How do I read the report?  What do I look for?  What should I note?  What is most important to seek out in the report?”

Here are some question guidelines–if you have others please comment.

  • Have they identified the engineering causes of failure, and what are they?
  • Do they identify responsible (guilty) parties and who are they?
  • Do they recommend actions to prevent ongoing tailings failure (at least four a year)?  And if so what do they recommend?
  • Do they ascribe failure to individual, corporate, institutional, or technical factors, and if so what are they?
  • Do they address all the issues in their scope of work and if not why not?


That is enough and will be the basis of my reading and review of the document.  But there are other things to ask and answer while reading the report.  Here are some:

  • Are they in agreement, or is there a minority opinion (probably the correct one)?
  • Do they comment on the many submissions they sought and if not, why not?
  • Do they agree with the Imperial Metal’s findings of the cause of failure?  Apparently Imperial Minerals has prepared and submitted to someone such a report.  Not public, obviously, and maybe not even given to the MVV panel.
  • Do we get the currently embargoed reports considered by the MVV panel, or they still secret until the next two panels publish their findings?
  • When will Hatch make public the many documents demanded by MEM on each and every BC tailings facility?  Or are these too to be embargoed until……?
  • What are the political and legal implications of the MVV findings?

On this latter point,  I have been informed that I could be subpoenaed in one or more of the many possible law cases to follow.  Crazy!  My first defence:  I am a blogger; my opinions are hearsay;  I have a law degree and was taught all the tricks of the law;  I am no expert, just opinionated; there are many others of far greater knowledge and insight than me; no jury will hear me–they will hear only my accent, not what I say.

So download the report when it is available.  Read it, keeping in mind it took six months and many of Thurber Consultants hours to prepare.  Be not too hasty to report or offer opinion.  For hopefully there is deep insight in the report and we will need time to think and opine.  And we probable will not have access to the documents considered by the MVV folk.

One day when fully retired I will write the definitive history of Mt Polley tailings facility failure.  Then they can burn me at the stake and spread my ashes atop the Royal Mountain King tailings facility.  All the while singing the trio Soave Sia il Vento from Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tuti.  In Italian:

Soave sia il vento
Tranquilla sia l’onda
Ed ogni elemento
Benigno risponda
Ai nostri desir

Or in English:

Gentle be the breeze,
Calm be the waves,
And every element
Smile in favour
On their wish

What a conclusion to the reading of the MVV report and to a life well lived.


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It is late and maybe I should go to bed.  But before I do I am compelled to write about the Mining Association of Canada’s (MAC) decision not to release it rating of the Mt Polley tailings facility compiled just before the failure. Below I repeat what Gordon Hoekstra writes.  He is a pretty intelligent and informed reporter, so read it carefully and consider.  What is all boils down to is this: (more…)

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In Edward O. Wilson’s new book The Meaning of Human Existence, he asks the following question:

Are human beings intrinsically good but corruptible by the forces of evil, or the reverse, innately sinful yet redeemable by the forces of good? Are we built to pledge our lives to a group, even to the risk of death, or the opposite, built to place ourselves and our families above all else.


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A small, sad band of ragged people protested in front of our building today.  Our building houses Imperial Metals and the Mt Polley Mining Company.  The front doors were locked; three security guards held their post; and the elevators worked only if you swiped your access card. (more…)

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I barely passed chemistry during my undergraduate civil engineering degree.  I enjoyed the geology course, although it took a lot of intellect to learn the difference between sedimentary rock, volcanic rock, and metamorphic rock.  For I grew up in the flat, featureless landscape of the Witwatersrand where very old soils covered all rocks—the first rock I saw was in the geology lab. (more…)

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I have spent the past few weeks in Rota, Spain with my son and family.  The sun shines on the house patio—most times. Athough some days the mist endures all day and it is cold.   Today the sun overcame the mists by about eleven a.m., and it was fun to sit in the sun and read John Grisham’s book The Last Juror.Sometimes I come inside and work on the computer.  I read what is written on Mt Polley and update an EduMine course that I am writing on Risk Assessment, Decision Making, and Management of Mine Geowaste Facilities.  For the failure of Mt Polley tailings facility is the best possible current example of the failure of risk assessment, decision making, and management of geowaste facilities we know of. (more…)

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Today I sat in the sun and finished the 1993 novel by John Le Carre called The Night Manager.  This is the first Le Carre book I have gotten into.  The others that I tried bored me or confused me to the extent that I abandoned them after the first chapter.  But this one gripped me and had me in its thrall all day in the sun.

No possible correlation between the story of British and USA secret intelligence operations and modern-day mining. Or is there?

I leave you to read the book, consider the news, and decide.  Maybe a perfect parable for Mt Polley if we seek  stories of power, corruption, arrogance, incompetence, and plain old human folly.  A good love story too.  It is hard to believe there is a love story buried in Mt Polley.  Although there must be–it will take a good journalist or novel-author to tell the love story that is entwined in the tailings failure.  Maybe when I am eighty I will take a try!



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