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Environmental strife from B.C. mine’s waste-water breach in 33 aerial photos

See images of waste water turning a creek into a river of sludge polluting two lakes

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The Mount Polley Mine is a copper/gold mine situated on the top of Mount Polley. At right is Boot Jack Lake, at left is Polley Lake, and in the distance toward the left is Quesnel Lake. The mine’s tailings pond is the clearing in the distance.

Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

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This view, taken from the opposite angle, shows the site of the tailings pond breach, at left, and the path of the waste water and slurry into Polley Lake and down into Hazeltine Creek.

Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

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Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

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The breach of the earthen dam separating the tailings pond, shown in the distance, from Hazeltine Creek.

Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

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This view from the opposite angle shows the breach in the middle distance, with Polley Lake beyond.

Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

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Closer to the breach.

Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

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An excavator sits atop the dam at the tailings pond.

Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

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This image was taken from the southwestern edge of the tailings pond.

Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

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Another view from south of the tailings pond shows the breach in the distance.

Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

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The tailings pond breach in detail.

Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

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Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

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This angle shows the volume of tailings pond material that flowed out after the breach and into Hazeltine Creek.

Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

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From further out, the slurry and waste water can be seen flowing into Polley Lake. At the bottom right corner of the photo sits an abandoned canoe.

Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

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Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

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Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

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Another view facing away from the breach and toward the waters of Polley Lake.

Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

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The Mount Polley Mine is visible from the opposite angle.

Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

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Hazeltine Creek, at right, was barely a metre wide before the breach made it swell with debris to a width of more than 45 metres.

Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

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A chopper surveys the damage along Hazeltine Creek.

Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

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Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

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Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

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Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

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Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

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Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

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Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

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Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

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The tailings pond material flowed along Hazeltine Creek and into Quesnel Lake, a glacial lake that about a quarter of British Columbia’s sockeye salmon call home.

Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

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Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

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Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

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Quesnel Lake is fjord-like in shape, with multiple arms, and is also the deepest lake in B.C.

Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

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Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

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This overhead shot shows debris flowing into Quesnel Lake, and a boat at bottom.

Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

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Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

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