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$75 million clean-up project for Britannia Mine Site in B.C.

In an unusual collaborative arangement, the government and private sector are collaborating on cleaning up the cont...


In an unusual collaborative arangement, the government and private sector are collaborating on cleaning up the contamination left by a former mine site in B.C. The Britannia Mine site is said to be one of the worst pollution sites in North America. The defunct mine drains water into Howe Sound, 50 kilometres north of Vancouver. Plans for the clean-up, approved by the B.C. cabinet, include provisions for treating the acid rock drainage as well as contaminated soil and sediments in the Sound. The treatment program is expected to start within a year, and the B.C. Ministry of Water, Lands and Air Protection (formerly the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks) says they are working with the site’s owner, Copper Beach Estates Ltd., to work out the details of how they will proceed and how consulting engineering firms will be involved.
The B.C. Government has agreed to cover costs of the clean-up to $75 million. However, the corporations which are alleged to be potentially responsible for the contamination have also agreed to pay $30 million into a clean-up fund. In exchange the companies will be released from their future liabilities in connection with the site.
One aspect of the clean-up plan is a $12 million treatment plant which will be built on the site and managed through a partnership with the owner Copper Beach. An application for an infrastructure grant by the Fraser Basin Council has been made to cover two-thirds of the $12 million cost of the plant. Other clean-up costs will be partially covered by future developments on the site.