Teck responds to Northport Washington health cluster study results

High disease rate found in town near B.C. Teck smelter

CBC News

Posted: Aug 14, 2012 4:36 PM PT

Teck responds to smelter illness accusations

A U.S. study has found an unusually high incidence of gastrointestinal disease in a small U.S. town located downstream from a Teck smelter in Trail, B.C.

Northport, Wash., is a small community of 300 people, located 35 kilometres downstream from Teck’s Trail operations — one of the biggest lead and zinc smelters in the world.

Researchers at Harvard Medical School have now confirmed Northport residents have 10 to 15 times the normal rate of diseases such as colitis and Crohn’s disease, which have symptoms including abdominal pain and diarrhea.

Teck’s Trail smelter is one of the biggest lead and zinc smelters in the world. (Trail Daily Times/Canadian Press)“It’s a relief to have someone in a knowledgeable situation say something is going on here that is not normal,” says Northport resident Joe Wickman.

The Harvard study has ruled out a genetic connection, as few of the Northport victims are related.

Researchers are now seeking funding to establish whether environmental toxins are behind the high rate of Crohn’s disease and colitis.

Teck says it has spent millions of dollars reducing pollution from its Trail smelter, and there is no established link between environmental factors and disease rates for Crohn’s and colitis.

“We need to find out what is really going and we need to have clear answers here,” says company spokesperson Dave Godlewski.

For generations, locals have complained they’ve been sickened by pollution from the smelter across the border.

Jamie Paparich, whose father and aunt had Crohn’s disease, has lobbied the medical community to get involved for years.

“When I stumbled upon all the records and research about Teck, and learned all the years and decades of pollution they had put into the river and air, it just became so obvious that this was the common denominator this was the link,” says Paparich.

He now wants action from Teck.

“They can stop maybe shuffling their feet on some of this and go forward on areas they know they can make a difference now,” Paparich said.

With files from CBC’s Bob Keating

4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Will Bockemuehl on August 16, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    “…there is no established link between enviromental factors and disease rates for Chrone’s and colitis”
    It is better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool, than to open it and remove all doubt!
    I hope that the spoke’spersons for Teck are included in any settlement, being required to lie so just to keep there jobs.
    There is 50-60 years of monitored data, all in Teck’s possesion. and 10x-15x the normal occurance of gastro-intestinal disease, all in little old Northport. Talk about a smoking gun.
    “It wasn’t us, it was something in the air…or water”!
    And now the Colville Tribe is sueing too. There will be a reckoning! Hang in there Bulldog!

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    • Thanks Will, your constant encouragement and support means the world to me!

      Sent from my iPhone

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      • Posted by Will Bockemuehl on August 17, 2012 at 6:57 am

        I read the article yesterday morning, and not for the first time, read those words. What in God’s name do they think 60 years of water and airborne data mean, when coupled with the elevated pod of gastro-intestinal disease? There is a name, it’s called a scientific experiment…cause and effect…the hores and the cart…whatever. It is undeniable, and they look more and more ignorant with each false claim. I know Jami Lord and Lori, her mother, so I know it isn’t just being Canadian, afterall, THOSE two have smarts! It must just be that the company owners would, rather than working in earnest to stop the cause and deal with the effects, hide behind the sham that is ignorance, and outright lies!

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  2. Posted by Hilary on August 16, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    Jamie, do you have a link for this interview?

    What’s up with them calling you a “he”?

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