Better tell the judge Mr. Lindsay, maybe your fine will get tripled. Which wouldn’t really matter because history shows Teck has a habit of ignoring orders by courts and governments, a habit which courts and governments ignore.
Teck says ice, not coal waste, killed fish by Rob Chaney, Dec 29, 2021, Missoulian
A Canadian coal company claims a major fish kill upstream of Montana’s Koocanusa Reservoir was due to cold weather and habitat changes, and not selenium discharges from its mines.
Teck Coal has faced mounting criticism from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Montana Department of Environmental Quality and Canadian environmental organizations over the levels of toxic mine waste downstream from its coal mines. The loss of nearly 90% of cutthroat trout in the Upper Fording River near one of the mines in the winter of 2018-19 was a factor driving significantly stricter standards for selenium in transboundary water flows coming into Montana.
In an internal Evaluation of Cause study, Teck researchers reported the fish kill was due to extreme ice conditions combined with mining development that eliminated some of the overwintering habitat the fish used on the Fording River.
“The findings indicate water quality constituents, including selenium, were not a primary contributor to the decline,” the report stated.
The new report met skepticism from environmental organizations monitoring Teck. Wyatt Petryshen of the Canadian organization WildSight said the company’s internal analysis avoided looking at causes that might implicate mining waste.
“They took the lowest-hanging fruit they could find and didn’t address the underlying causes,” Petryshen said. “We haven’t seen this kind of fish kill anywhere else that I’m aware of. That makes it hard to say it was extreme weather alone.”
Teck digs steelmaking coal at its 57,000-acre Fording River mine. That coal is different from the thermal coal mined in Montana and much of the United States, and isn’t burned for electricity. Instead, it goes to steel foundries, mainly in China, for metal smelting. Teck currently produces about 9 million metric tons of steel-making coal a year, and anticipates it has probable reserves for another 28 years of production.
Selenium is a trace element and byproduct of coal mining. In tiny doses, it is necessary for good health in animals and humans. But it becomes toxic in slightly larger doses. The Canadian government limits selenium levels in waterways to 2 parts per billion (ppb).
Last March, Teck paid Really? In March 2021, a Federal Court judge approved the largest Fisheries Act fine ever “after the mining giant put forward a joint submission with Environment and Climate Change Canada stating it contaminated waterways in southeastern B.C.’s Elk Valley with selenium.” No word yet whether the fine was paid and our courts and gov’ts are so dirty when it comes to enabling law-violating corporations and their harms, I doubt anyone is checking. a $60 million fine resulting from 2012 findings of between 9 and 90 ppb of selenium in the Upper Fording River downstream from its mines. Teck officials maintained the fine was unrelated to the 2019 fish kill. Last December, Montana and the EPA adopted selenium limits of .8 ppb in Lake Koocanusa.
Earlier in 2021, Teck announced intentions to sell its coal mines.
However, a spike in coal prices — especially for the metallurgic coal Teck takes from British Columbia — prompted the company to accelerate production in September. Its stock currently trades at about $28 a share, on a steady rise from about $20 in early 2021.
The company also updated progress on its efforts to improve both fish habitat and water quality in its Elk Valley mine complex.
“Since 2019, we have worked to rehabilitate approximately 10 acres of fish habitat along 3 miles of the upper Fording River and reconnected 9 miles of tributary habitat,” Teck spokesman Dale Steeves said. “This work included creating overwintering pool habitat, adding woody debris, improving fish passages and planting over 45,000 seedlings across 52 acres to improve riparian areas, in addition to limiting water use during low-flow periods and increased monitoring.”
Teck’s Elk Valley Water Quality Plan is expected to begin removing mine waste from 13 million gallons of water a day in the upper Fording River in 2022. Wanna bet Teck will promise – a lot, but delay and delay as usual, and blame the pandemic?
“Combined with our first two existing treatment facilities, which are achieving approximately 95% removal of selenium and nitrate, we will have up to 20.4 million gallons per day of treatment capacity installed by the end of 2022,” Steeves said. “With the completion and commissioning of this treatment capacity we will achieve one of the primary objectives of the Elk Valley Water Quality plan — stabilizing and reducing the selenium trend in the Elk Valley.”
The British Columbia provincial government ordered Teck to stabilize and decrease its mining contaminants in the watershed in 2014. That still hasn’t happened, according to Erin Sexton, a senior scientist at the Flathead Lake Biological Station and technical representative for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes in the selenium dispute.
“They have yet to achieve that mandate, and it’s been seven years,” Sexton said. “Until we see selenium and nitrates and sulfates and other mine contaminants coming down the watershed in decline, that’s not being met. The trends have only gone up.”
Teck official Katherine Laurence said the company did submit its reports for peer review and outside discussion. It is also challenging the Montana DEQ selenium standard, suggesting a 1.5 ppb level is more appropriate. Damn, that’s arrogant and unforgivable. Cutthroat trout is my favourite fish to catch. I stopped fishing them decades ago, because of the cumulative harms being done by companies like Teck raping and pillaging.
Sexton said she also could not confirm the evidence of peer review or outside confirmation of the Evaluation of Cause report.
“It’s difficult to trust the science behind the report, when the investigation hasn’t been a very transparent process, from my perspective,” Sexton said. A standing request by both the U.S. and Canadian governments to establish an independent scientific framework to oversee development in the watershed would help resolve those problems, she said.
Refer also to:
Fines (rarely paid) are used to con the citizenry into believing Canadian authorities (including our courts) are minding the rule of law and our environment.
… The company avoided a full trial by reaching a financial settlement in Canadian federal court. Teck Resources President Don Lindsay apologized on Friday and took responsibility for the damage, saying the company invested about $1 billion in water treatment facilities and pledged to spend up to $655 million more over the next four years to further protect nearby waters.
“Again, to the Ktunaxa First Nation, whose territory we operate on, and to our communities in the Elk Valley, we deeply regret these impacts and we apologize,” Lindsay said. “You have my commitment that we will not waver in our focus on addressing this challenge and working to ensure that the environment is protected for today and for future generations.”
The $60 million fine is 10 times as large as any previous punishment imposed under Canada’s Fisheries Act.
Lars Sanders-Green of conservation group Wildsight said, “between 2017 and 2019, we saw the disappearance of 93% of the adult westslope cutthroat trout.” He added: “There’s about 100 fish left in the Upper Fording River tributaries, well below what’s needed to be self-sustaining.” …
Teck does only smart thing possible given the pathetic economics and investors globally rejecting fossil fuels; Withdraws Frontier Tarshit project. Excellent, now Teck can clean up its toxic pollution in BC and heed court orders against the company. I expect it will just keep refusing and Canadian authorities will enable the refusals, as usual.
New Study: Dumping oil & gas drilling wastewater on roads provides little dust suppression, contains toxic chemicals harmful to public health, agriculture, aquatic life. (PS It’s just about giving industry more corporate welfare via free waste dumping)
Another Settle & Gag to Keep Details Under Alberta’s Toxic Rug? Prairie Mines & Royalty (previously Obed) Fined $4.5 Million (was the fine paid?) For Spilling Toxic Waste, Contaminating Athabasca River
Cartoon in Victoria’s Times-Colonist.
Sanctions against polluters are feeble and out of date, and are rarely invoked.