November 26th, 2014 ~ Vol. 84 No. 46
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B.C. government approves
Teck’s water quality plan
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
EZRA BLACK
Pass Herald Reporter
A plan to address the ongoing contamination of the Elk Valley watershed due to decades of coal mining has been approved by the B.C. government.
“This plan represents the next step in the long-term plan to ensure a healthy watershed in the Elk Valley,” says Minister of Environment Mary Polak.
According to a government release, Teck Resources Ltd. plans to control levels of selenium and nitrate that is leaching out of waste rock and into local rivers and streams.
As part of the plan, Teck will construct water diversions and water treatment facilities at a number of their mine sites including Line Creek, Fording River and Elkview Operations.
In April 2013, the government ordered Teck Resources to address water quality issues including elevated concentrations of selenium, cadmium, nitrate and sulphate and the formation of calcite.
The Plan was formed after consultations with the Ktunaxa Nation Council and other First Nations, members of the public and various levels of government.
The plan covers the entire Elk Valley watershed, including Fording River and the Canadian portion of Lake Koocanusa.
Ktunaxa Nation chairperson Kathryn Teneese said the plan shows that environmental conservation is a top priority for the government.
Teck is facing a number of water quality issues.
continued below...


According to a company release, last December a Washington state judge ruled that Teck is liable for the cost of cleaning up contaminants in the Columbia River from the dumping of slag and effluent from the company's operations in Trail, B.C.
Last month, Teck’s $100 million water treatment facility, a key part of their water treatment plan, was shut down after dozens of fish were found dead in a nearby watercourse.
In a statement, Nic Milligan, Manager of Community and Aboriginal Affairs for Teck, said the cause of the fish deaths is unknown but that the water treatment plant was shut down as a precaution.
“While the investigation into this incident is ongoing, the startup process of the water treatment facility – recently installed to reduce selenium in the water – may potentially be related to the incident,” said Milligan.
Milligan explained that the facility uses a biological treatment process that converts selenium into particulate form, which is then removed from the water using a multi-step filtration process.
In March, elevated selenium levels forced Sparwood to shut down one of the community’s water wells.
According to Lucas Schoeppner, analyst with Sustainalytics, selenium pollution has worsened over the last few decades because of the shift to open pit mining.
According to Environment Canada, as selenium leaches into rivers and streams it becomes concentrated in aquatic insects before it’s passed up the food chain.
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November 26th ~ Vol. 84 No. 46
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