Teck confesses to a century of US river pollution

Diversified mining giant Teck Resources Ltd. (TSX:TCK.A) has confessed to polluting the upper reaches of Columbia River in Washington State for nearly a century with effluent discharge from one of its BC-situated smelters.

The admission was made by Teck subsidiary Teck Metals in a US court as part of a lawsuit filed by Washington state's Native American Colville Confederated Tribes over environmental damage caused by the discharge of smelter effluents.

The Vancouver Sun reports that the Teck smelter, located in Trail in the southeast of British Columbia, disposed of hazardous effluent in adjacent river systems from 1896 to 1995, with some of the waste ending up in the Upper Columbia River south of the Canadian border.

In Teck's own words:

…some portion of the slag discharged from Teck’s Trail Operations into the Columbia River between 1896 and 1995, and some portion of the effluent discharged from Trail Operations, have been transported to and are present in the Upper Columbia River in the United States, and that some hazardous substances from the slag and effluent have been released into the environment within the United States.

The Colville Confederated Tribes filed a lawsuit against Teck eight years ago claiming the company has dumped 140,000 tons of slag directly into the river, polluting the surface water, ground water and sediment of the upper Columbia River and Lake Roosevelt with hazardous metals including arsenic, cadmium, mercury, lead, copper and zinc.

In a press release Teck stated that its agreement with the plaintiffs concerning the facts of the case is expected to lead the court to judge in favour of the plaintiffs, with compensation costs to be subsequently determined.

Image of the Columbia River courtesy of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers via Wikipedia