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Archive for the ‘safety’ Category

This evening I watched the Mariinsky version of Prokofiev’s Romeo & Juliet.  This is the only ballet I like.  Mostly because of the music.  And, I suspect, because once I could recite the entire Shakespeare play.  (I was Friar Lawrence in the  high school production.)  And now in the ballet I can hear the words of every emotion.

Is there anything more moving than Juliet’s dance with her nurse?  Juliet is so innocent and joyous in anticipation of the party planned for that evening.  Better is the dance between Romeo and Juliet at the party, when they meet and fall in love.  Better is the balcony scene when they pledge their love.  No, even better is the scene at Friar Lawrence’s cell when they marry.  And the best is the morning of the night they consummate their love & marriage.

I can still hear those words:

JULIET:
Wilt thou be gone? It is not yet near day.
It was the nightingale, and not the lark,
That pierced the fearful hollow of thine ear.
Nightly she sings on yon pomegranate tree.
Believe me, love, it was the nightingale.

ROMEO
It was the lark, the herald of the morn,
No nightingale. Look, love, what envious streaks
Do lace the severing clouds in yonder east.
Night’s candles are burnt out, and jocund day
Stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops.
I must be gone and live, or stay and die.

For us ordinary mortals, obsessed by the silliness of Mt Polley, and publically oblivious of the delights of love, tomorrow brings the first of the reports on every tailings facility in British Columbia.  As noted in this report:

As the Dec. 1 deadline approaches for mines in B.C. to submit independent dam safety inspection reports, the Ministry of Energy and Mines announced it has selected Hatch Ltd. to assist with the oversight of the review process.

Currently there are 98 permitted tailings impoundments at 60 operating and closed metal and coal mines in B.C. All of them will be required to submit the inspection reports.

“We will know the final status of the submissions by midnight on Dec. 1, which is the deadline set by the Chief of Inspector of Mines,” ministry spokesperson, David Haslam told the Tribune.

Normally permitted mines are required to conduct a dam safety inspection each year, but when the tailings impoundment breached at Mount Polley Mine on Aug. 4, releasing 17 million cubic metres of water and 8 million cubic metres of tailings, Chief Inspector of Mines Al Hoffman issued an order requiring every mining facility in the province submit reports by the deadline.

New was the requirement that the inspections be reviewed by an independent qualified third-party professional engineer from a firm not associated with their tailings facilities, the ministry said.

“The order also included a requirement for a third-party review of the dam consequence classifications by Dec. 1, 2014,” the ministry noted in a press release. “A dam’s consequence classification is based on the potential impact to population, environment, cultural values and infrastructure should it fail, and is set according to the Canadian Dam Association Dam Safety Guidelines.”

Under the order, mines with high-, very-high or extreme consequence classifications will be required to submit Dam Break Inundation Studies and Emergency Preparedness and Response Plans which have been reviewed by a qualified professional engineer.

Hatch Ltd. was awarded the $305,000 contract and will assist the Ministry of Energy and Mines with reviewing all of the submissions to ensure consistency and compliance, work with First Nations and establish a platform to release all submissions to the public in approximately eight weeks.

Additionally members of the public and informed interest groups wishing to make submissions to the three-member independent Mount Polley Mine review panel have until Dec. 7, 2014.

Information on how to submit information can be found at http://www.mountpolleyreviewpanel.ca.

I saw the first of these on Friday.  Wow!  If they are all like this, all hell is about to break loose!  But then maybe not all will be as brutally honest as the one I saw.  I hope they are all honest, brutally honest, for the jolt, the wake-up call will forever change mining waste management, not only in BC but worldwide.  Stand by, it will be an interesting week if Hatch can get their act together and let the public see the reports as they come in.  Although I am told many have applied for an extension: work not done; opinions too strong; crowd control not ready; and lawyers in uproar.

Oh for a Friar Lawrence to tame the passions that the reports will arouse. For if no Lawrence, the entire BC mining industry will be singing and dancing to these words:

It was the lark, the herald of the morn,
No nightingale. Look, love, what envious streaks
Do lace the severing clouds in yonder east.
Night’s candles are burnt out, and jocund day
Stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops.
I must be gone and live, or stay and die.

No matter.  Tomorrow night I shall take Viagra, go to my lover, and we will fuck, regardless of the state of BC or international mining.  Existential pleasure transcends politics, MEM, or the state of the environment.

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DSCF4423

This picture and the others in this posting were taken by me at Knotsberry Farm in California.
A great place to visit and enjoy a terrifying ride along the raging river of insanity.

If you seek a thorough and intelligent analysis of dealing with uranium mill sites (and particularly the tailings facility) take a look at the following–it is an amazingly comprehensive document–and should be required reading for all involved in mine management, regardless of whether the mine is uranium, copper, gold, or something else. (more…)

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Foto: Peter Öhman

The translation above the pictures reads:

It doesn’t matter that it is Sweden’s most modern mine, built according to environmental laws, which the Government says is the world’s strongest. In addition, Northlands mine outside Pajala is a financial flop, it is now also an ecological disaster.
One million cubic metres of water with toxic heavy metals such as nickel, cadmium, lead, copper, and more flows straight out of the wrecked mine dam to Muonioälven and later the Torne River, which is classified as a national river.

At this link you will find four photos that appear to show the breach of the perimeter embankment or dike and spillage of tailings into the surrounding countryside.  Above is one of them.

The reports make little mention of the causes of failure.  Although the four pictures appear to show more than one breach.  A posting on Facebook dates the failure as 19 July 2014.

Please comment if you know more.

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A little bit more on the failure of that tailings facility in Brazil from some-one on the ground:

The accident was in a very small mine close to Belo. It was an old tailings dam that was not  supposed to be in operation anymore. But they decide to pile dried tailings on top of it. I don’t have technical details about the failure but I guess it is very similar to a previous one I took you to see. At the moment of the failure, equipment was working at the same point. That’s the reason for the deaths. It is going to take some time for us to get the conclusions about the real cause of the accident. But, as soon as I get some more information I will let you know.

Thanks to this fellow for letting us know.

Here is another comment from someone in Brazil:

The Minas Gerais dam failure is worst because of dead people (3), which means that there is environmental process and also criminal. The problem I see from the two failures is that we still don´t know the causes. In Canada the cause seems to be overtopping or seepage thru the embankment (high pore pressures or piping); in Brazil it seems to have occurred static liquefaction, and the triggering cause possibly excavation of the outer slopes. But we haven´t seen any word about the causes. It is just my guess. In Canada the pictures we saw doesn´t show a good appearance of the dykes. It resembles coarse and loose material, not prepared to have any contact with water. In Brazil it was an old tailings dam, upstream construction, that was being used as a platform for the operation of settling ponds (we call it here “baias”), where the coarse settles and are removed by shovels and transported to piles, and the fines have the same destiny, but need more time to drain and do dry.

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Just got news of the failure of a tailings facility in Brazil.  I can find no English versions of the news.  There are many reports in Portuguese, and you can get them translated via Google.  They provide little information about the engineering causes or consequences, other than that at least three and possibly as many as ten are dead. (more…)

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DSCF4461

The oft-asked question I get is this: how do you prevent a recurrence of the Mt Polley failure?  I have touched on some aspects of the answer in previous postings.  But let me, here, state my opinion succinctly.  Sure to be controversial, but this is what I truly believe is necessary to prevent a recurrence of Mt Polley, at least here in BC.   At least the following should be done for every tailings facility (in BC?): (more…)

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DSCF4236

The five pictures in this posting, were taken (by me) at the Getty Center in Los Angeles.  This place is surely a testament to genius and attention to detail.

Yesterday I was asked if Canadian guidelines are adequate to deal with the Mt Polley situation. More specifically, the questions continued: if the current Canadian guidelines regarding tailings dam safety had been implemented, would the failure have been avoided. Before I answer these questions, let us first take a look at the guidelines that are out there. (more…)

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