Metagenomics to assess impacts of the Mount Polley Mine tailings dam breach on associated ecosystems
The Mount Polley tailings impoundment failure released 24 million m3 of mine-influenced water and sediment into the surrounding watershed. The scale of this spill is unprecedented in BC history, and the effects on current and future ecosystems are unknown. Of paramount concern is the containment of toxic metal-containing compounds that threaten aquatic life. My research addresses the role of wetlands and riparian soils in remediation of this spill. I established permanent monitoring sites under a Mitacs Accelerate award to track the progression of contaminants throughout the watershed. Extension of this work will allow us to track responses of these ecosystems to physical and chemical stress, and conduct a bioaugmentation trial to determine the best approaches for remediation. Our research outcomes will provide Imperial Metals with a clearer understanding of the effects of the spill and will inform Imperial Metal's decisions on how best to stimulate ecosystem recovery.