On Saturday August 24, 2013 a malfunction of a containment pond at Coalmont Energy’s Basin Coal Mine 20 km west of Princeton, spilled what is estimated at “no more than 13,000 gallons” of coal slurry, which eventually made its way into the nearby Tulameen River, turning it black.
This coal slurry spill was characterized by Coalmont Energy as an event which just happened to exceed their backup plan, and “mainly had a visual impact” on the environment.
This is a small consolation to the residents in the area, their drinking water, and the critters in the impacted waterways which had above acceptable levels of contamination for aquatic life days after the spill.
While this event received little attention here in the Comox Valley, this should serve as a cautionary tale for those concerned about the proposed Raven Coal Mine and it’s location only five km from Baynes Sound.
Imagine a scenario where 13,000 gallons of coal slurry was dumped from a Raven Coal Mine containment pond into nearby Cowie Creek and made it’s way a short distance into Baynes Sound.
The impacts of contamination to aquatic life and our sustainable shellfish industry near the outflow of Cowie Creek would be devastating.
Even with 21st century mining industry technology, spills caused by mechanical malfunctions, human error, or unforeseen circumstances can and will continue to happen.
Given these facts, this Basin Coal Mine spill underscores the importance of protecting our sustainable Baynes Sound shellfish industry and exposing the threat posed by the proposed Raven Coal Mine Project.