If you are a past or present Northport, WA resident, or a resident of a community nearby, please read the petition below.
If you agree with the statement please copy and paste the petition to an e-mail. Sign (type) your name, date, address and email at the bottom. Forward your email to: Northportproject@hotmail.com.
I will gather as many signed petitions as possible and send them on to the appellant panel.
Petition to Deny Teck Resource’s Air Emissions Appeal
We, the citizens of Northport, Washington are petitioning the Federal Court Appellant Panel for Pakootas v. Teck Cominco Metals, Ltd., No. 15-800005 (9th Cir.) to deny the defendants appeal in which Teck claims their air emissions are not considered a form of ‘disposal’ under CERCLA, and therefore they cannot be held liable for the damage caused by the smelter’s air emissions.
On April 6, 2016 the panel heard arguments on Teck’s appeal. During the hearing the panel expressed the definition of air emissions under CERCLA law, as applied in Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice v. BNSF Railway Co., does not specify air emissions as ‘disposal’ of industrial waste in the verbiage Congress used. The panel gave the impression of leaning in favor of Teck’s argument.
In the 1935 Ottawa Convention, a bilateral process between Canada and the United States was used to negotiate a lawsuit filed by two Northport farmers against Trail (Teck) Smelter. The farmers claimed the smelter’s sulfur dioxide emissions had caused damage to their crops and livestock. The investigation found that from 1929-1931 Trail emitted approximately 10,000 tons of sulfur per month, or 350 tons per day. The United States and Canada concluded that the smelter’s emissions had caused damage to the property of the farmers, as well as the surrounding forest areas. This agreement should set a precedence as to whether or not air emissions can be considered a form of ‘disposal’.
The results of all studies done of the area have shown damages were caused by the air emissions released by Teck’s smoke stacks. The 1936 USDA Forest Damage Air Modeling Study, the EPA decade long remedial investigation, Ecology’s air monitoring, soil and wetland studies, The Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA), and Teck’s own remedial investigation, have all confirmed that the primary source of contamination of the Upper Columbia River area is Teck Resources. More specifically, Teck’s aerial dispersion of heavy metal toxins, through their smoke stakes, was the primary source of contamination.
EPA project manager Laura Buelow stated, “(T)he data shows that the soil became contaminated from historical smelting operations at the Trail smelter, specifically the metals coming out of the smelter stacks (air).”
The Washington State Department of Ecology conducted soil sampling in 2012 as part of the Upper Columbia River Valley investigation. They concluded “Sediment samples were analyzed for lead, zinc, arsenic, cadmium, copper, antimony, mercury, total organic carbon, and grain size. Findings from both 2012 studies confirm elevated levels of metals in surface soils found in the Upper Columbia River Valley, and sediments in associated lakes and wetlands. The studies also show these metals came mostly from past smelter emissions in Trail B.C.”
The 1999 pre assessment screening for the Upper Columbia River Valley, conducted by the Upper Columbia River Natural Resource Trustee Council, concluded that based on prior studies and investigations “(t)he smelter is located within a deep valley with predominant winds from the northeast, which bring smelter emissions into the UCRS. Denuded vegetation from SO2 emissions, documented in 1929, indicated that smelter emissions traveled down the Columbia River at least as far as Northport. Historic smelter emissions have potentially impacted upland soils and other resources. Goodzari (2002a, 2002b) documented aerial deposition originating from the smelter and measured elevated As, Cd, Cu, Pb, Hg and Zn concentrations in soil, as far as the US-Canada border.”
To simplify our point; Between 1921-2005 Teck smelter released; 38,465 tons of Zinc, 22,688 tons of Lead, 1,225 tons of Arsenic, 1,103 tons of Cadmium, and 97 tons of Mercury through their air emissions into the State of Washington, located 3 miles downriver from the Canadian smelter.
To find in favor of Teck’s manipulation of the CERCLA statute would be a major injustice to the communities along the Upper Columbia River who have suffered from major auto immune diseases because of their decades of exposure to Teck’s toxic air. We were unaware of the danger we were in until very recently. The government agencies, created to protect us, let us down in the past. We hope the U.S. federal court system will do the job they took an oath to do, to fairly interpret U.S. law when ruling on a case. Please do not allow this Canadian smelter to manipulate U.S. law so they benefit, while the Upper Columbia River Valley’s environment and residents would continue to be damaged and ignored.
To rule in Teck’s favor would not only continue to endanger the lives of WA residents, it would make a mockery of the CERCLA/Superfund program, and create a legal precedent that would set environmental law back 30 years.
SIGNATURE (typed): ___________________________