Mt. Polley findings start political dust up

Macdonald and Clovechok trade accusations on Mt. Polley review

The noise that is NDP misinformation.” – Doug Clovechok

Facts? Or simply saying what Bill Bennett tells you to say?” – Norm Macdonald

Columbia River Revelstoke MLA Macdonald (NDP) and BC Liberal candidate Clovechok are going at it over the Mt. Polley Mine panel findings, which concluded that the tailings breach at the mine last August was due predominantly to design.

In a letter to regional media, Clovechok takes issue with statements made by Macdonald in the days after the release of the findings.

“It would seem like NDP Norm MacDonald is up to his regular antics yet again attempting to distract constituents with his noise of NDP misinformation.  Macdonald’s recent claims that the failure at Mount Polley could have been predicted and that there were warning signs is completely untrue and are completely refuted by the conclusions found by an independent panel that investigated the incident,”Clovechok said. “A panel comprised of three internationally recognized geotechnical experts!”

Clovechok continues. “Contrary to Macdonald’s contrary allegations, the Mount Polley tailings breech, as quoted directly from the panel report, was “a sudden failure without precursors”. Further and again from the report, “additional inspections would not have prevented the failure” again refuting Macdonald’s claims.  Finally his allegations about the lack of government inspections is completely wrong as reported by the panel who indicate inspectors are “well qualified”, have “clear targets and schedules for annual inspections” and are “amongst the best the panel has encountered among agencies with similar duties.”

Macdonald responds. “What does a government do when disaster happens on its watch, and absolutely everyone can see that it is entirely the responsibility of government and the Minister in charge? Hold a press conference, refuse to allow journalists to actually see the report that is the subject of the announcement, and then lie about its real contents.

“And when the opposition calls out the government for its failure and deception, get failed BC Liberal candidates to pose as regular citizens with letters to the editor written by BC Liberal hacks and Bill Bennett apologists.”

However Clovechok says the “NDP misinformation begs a question.

“Why does Mr. MacDonald go to such lengths to create his own facts? Could his reason be found in the panel’s conclusion which states: “The dominant contribution to the failure resides in its design. The design of the tailings storage facility did not take into account the complexity of the sub-glacial and pre-glacial geological environment.” In addition, Mr. Macdonald knows that the failed design of the Mount Polley facility was approved and permitted in the 1990s; when the NDP was in government.”

Macdonald says that Vancouver Sun columnist Vaughn Palmer got hold of the full report.

“And here’s Palmer’s analysis: preceding the disaster, industry and the Mines ministry were playing a ‘dangerous game’.

“Palmer clearly states, ‘The engineering panel (that wrote the report that Mr. Clovechok didn’t read but is happy to comment on) had plenty to say about the sorry state of affairs that preceded the dam failure last August.’

“Palmer continues, ‘Mount Polley was not a story of one flaw that went undetected for years with nothing to be done about it. Rather, it was characterized by a pattern of dubious behavior, margins of safety that skirted the edge of the cliff, little thought of worst-case scenarios, all factors in a disaster waiting to happen.’

“And all this happened on Minister of Mines Bill Bennett’s watch. So on this issue, I think British Columbians would be better off believing the journalist that did his job on this file, rather than Mr. Clovechok who clearly does not know what he’s talking about,” Macdonald said.

“When Mount Polley tailings facility breached, Mr. Macdonald, without any supporting evidence and in typical knee jerk fashion, unjustly called for the resignation of the Energy and Mines Minister,” Clovechok wrote. “Now that the evidence is in, the Ministry has been exonerated and given his propensity to offer constituents  misinformation we say to him using his own words; Mr. Macdonald “do the honorable thing and resign”.