B.C. privacy watchdog probes if government had duty to warn public about tailings breach

The Canadian Press
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B.C.’s information and privacy commissioner plans to investigate whether the provincial government should have notified the public about potential risk connected to the Mount Polley tailings pond.

The pond burst last week, sending millions of cubic metres of water and silt into nearby streams and waterways.

Privacy commissioner Elizabeth Denham says concerns are being raised about what the provincial government knew about the condition of the Mount Polley mine and whether the public should have been notified of the potential risks before the disaster occurred.

Denham says she’s acting on a complaint her office received and will determine whether the government was legally bound to disclose information about the gold and copper mine.

In a news release, Denham notes that the Freedom of Information and Privacy Protection Act imposes legal requirements on public bodies to provide people with timely information where there is a significant risk of harm or where information is in the public interest.

Denham has the power to compel disclosure of documents, interview government and company officials, make determinations of compliance within the law, and recommend changes.

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