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September 9th, 2015 ~ Vol. 85 No. 35
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Teck to face 19 charges over 2012 Elkview mine leak
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
SHANE BRYSON
Elk Valley Herald Reporter
The Elk Valley Herald has obtained a list of the 19 charges filed by the Provincial Crown Counsel against Teck Coal for violations of the Environmental Management Act and the Fisheries Act alleged to have occurred between Aug. 22 and Sept. 19, 2012.

Teck representatives have refused to clarify the charges, but according to the relevant file (31686) in the BC Ministry of Justice’s Court Services Online, Teck Coal Limited is scheduled to face 19 charges at 9:30 a.m. in Fernie Law Courts, Oct. 29, 2015. Some of the charges provide for fines of up to $1 million. The alleged offences include 12 from the Environmental Management Act under section 120, and some of these refer to hazardous waste (as defined in the act) and its transport, along with the introduction of waste into the environment without permit.

The remaining seven charges being filed under the Fisheries act include “FFA – 38(5) fail to take all responsible measures/protect fish” and two counts of “FFA – 40(3)(c) fail to notify of harmful alteration/disruption.”

Although the most recent press release from the company does not specify fish mortality, The Free Press released a story on Oct. 10, 2012, reporting on discolouration in the Elk River on Sept. 12 of that year. That story also references dewatering activities on Aug. 29 and Sept. 19 of 2012, during which nine deceased suckerfish were located in ponds connected to Goddard Creek. It’s unclear whether the charges to be heard concern this or similar instances of fish mortality, if any.
continued below ...
The incident that sparked the charges involved the discharge of water containing sediment --according to Chris Stannell, a Senior Communications Specialist at Teck, the sediment was composed of fine silt and clay particles, including some coal-- flowing from the main sediment pond at Elkview into the Elk River. An Aug. 21 press release from Teck indicates that the charges also concern monitoring, reporting and construction practices associated with a maintenance project at Elkview.

Stannell would not clarify how much sediment was discharged, whether any job action resulted for any employees of the company, how long the discharge lasted, what specific monitoring, reporting and construction practices are raised by the charges, whether or not, or what short-term adverse environmental effects may have resulted, or whether and how fish species were effected.

He did, however, explain the lack of commentary, saying “We are currently reviewing the charges and will be determining our response in due course. As such, this is the extent of the information I can provide the Elk Valley Herald at this time.”

The company’s Aug. 21 press release states that the incident resulted in neither human health risks nor long-term adverse impacts to the environment, and Stannell told the Elk Valley Herald that “following the incident in 2012 we took a number of steps including changes in procedure and employee training.”
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September 9th ~ Vol. 85 No. 35
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