Archive for the ‘Black Sand Beach’ Category

Teck admits polluting, but still planning an escape route….

Teck admits polluting Columbia River in U.S.


But company doesn’t concede dumped waste caused harm

By Gordon Hoekstra, Vancouver Sun; With files from Canadian PressSeptember 11, 2012

Teck Resources has admitted that mining waste and effluent from its Trail smelter polluted the Columbia River across the U.S.-Canada border in Washington State for 100 years.

Its subsidiary, Teck Metals Ltd., agreed to these facts as part of a civil lawsuit with U.S. plaintiffs, which include American first nations and the State of Washington, over damages from the pollution that was discharged from 1896 to 1995.

The Teck Metals agreement released Monday acknowledges some portion of the effluent and slag from its Trail operations in southeastern B.C. were transported and present in the Upper Columbia River in the U.S., and that some hazardous substances were released into the environment in the U.S.

The company said this is expected to allow the court to find that Teck is potentially liable for damages.

However, Teck says the statement of facts doesn’t concede the pollution caused any harm.

“We haven’t agreed to the amount of injury that’s potentially the result of that (pollution release) – certainly not the risk to human health and the environment,” said Dave Godlewski, vice-president of environment and public affairs for U.S. subsidiary Teck American.

That’s being determined by ongoing studies that could be complete by 2015. Teck reached an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2006 to fund $20 million in environmental impact studies.

Results of a 2001 preliminary EPA study showed that contamination was present in sediment above the Grand Coulee Dam.

The initial studies were sparked by complaints in 1999 from the Colville Confederated Tribes in the U.S.

The tribes later launched the civil lawsuit, claiming 145,000 tonnes has been dumped directly into the river. The State of Washing-ton joined in 2004.

A state official called the Teck admission it had polluted the Columbia River on the U.S. side significant.

“They are saying they agree now after many years of denying that,” said Jani Gilbert, a spokeswoman for the Washington State Department of Ecology.

The admission also simplifies and shortens the first phase of the trial, she said.

However, Gilbert noted Teck will try to argue in a hearing scheduled for Oct. 10 in U.S. District Court in eastern Washington that the U.S. does not have jurisdiction over Teck’s Trail operation because it’s in Canada. In an earlier decision, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a decision by a lower court the case could go for-ward even though Teck’s operation was in Canada.

Teck tried to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the high court declined to hear it.

Austen Parrish, a professor at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles who has followed the case, said the vast majority of the main issues in the case still remain. “Teck has a number of defences to liability, including its jurisdictional issues,” Parrish noted.

The completion of the remedial studies will dictate what cleanup might be required, he said.

Costs of a cleanup on the Columbia River have been estimated as high as $1 billion, but Teck said based on its own studies it estimates the “compensable value of any damage will not be material.”

The pollution discharge – which included zinc, copper, lead and traces of elements such as arsenic – ended in 1995 after Teck upgraded the Trail operation.

Godlewski says studies show that Columbia River water is safe to swim in, fish can be eaten and beaches are safe to play on.

“The river’s water is as clean as can be. We meet every single water quality standard in existence,” he said.

More studies will examine the effects on bugs that live in or on the sediment, and on nearby soils.

Teck Resources’ admission that it polluted the Columbia River had little effect on the company’s share price. Its shares on the Toronto and New York stock exchanges dropped about one per cent on Mon-day, giving the company a market capitalization of about $17 billion.

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

1992 Northport WA Article on town’s “death list” & link to Teck Smelter

Spokane Chronicle – May 27, 1992

“Canadian Companies Suspected in Illness”

Read this archived article at: (pages 7 & 8 or B1 & B2)

The last paragraph in the story is a quote from my Grandma, regarding all the illnesses found in Northport residents, specifically the children;

“It’s too late for my children because they’ve already got these problems,” she (Kay Paparich) said. “But what about the little ones coming up?”

This article, and her quote, was published 19 years ago.

Over 15 Northport children have since been diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn’s.

Another 17 children have been diagnosed with one of the other illnesses found in clusters throughout the community, spanning 3 generations of residents.

In this same article another Northport residents is quoted as saying;“This is my death list”.

She is referring to the list of 45 Northport residents who had passed away from cancer.
The current Human Health Risk Assessment being done by the EPA, regarding the health impacts the millions of tons of toxins Teck Smelter dumped into the air and Columbia River for over a Century, Northport, (located 3 miles downriver from the Canadian smelter), will not be looked at further as the EPA states their past research has shown no link to the chronic exposure to the smelters heavy metal toxins and the reported illnesses in the town.

Northport’s population has been stable at 350 since 1925. Currently we have identified 6 health clusters spanning three generations of Northport residents.

This is the largest amount of separate, non-infectious, health clusters ever found in the United States.

The EPA and the DOH still claim that: “there is no public health hazard for people living in the area…. if (their outdoor exposure is) up to 35 days in a year.”

I guess the good people of Northport Washington just have to hold their breath the other 330 days of the year….oh and hide inside their homes (preferably in a cellar if available).


A New Name for a New Beach?

Recently Teck America, along with the Department of Ecology, removed 9,100 tons of slag from Black Sand Beach.  Slag is a by-product of the smelting process.  It is a black, glass like material, which resembles sand and contains heavy metal toxins. When the slag, that the beaches name was derived from, was hauled off, the visual reminder of what Teck’s pollution had done to our beloved river was gone.  In its place is a beach of clean sand and gravel, created from the accurate studies and clean-up that took decades to achieve.

From 1906-1996 Teck, (formerly Teck Cominco), a Canadian smelter in Trail B.C., released 450 tons of slag a day into the Columbia River. It was quickly carried down river into the United State, where the speed of the river decreased as it navigated through bends and curves, sandbars and any other speed bumps Mother Nature created.  The century of slag settled throughout many areas of the Upper Columbia River, including the banks and beaches. Black Sand Beach was created from the accumulation of slag.

Logically the residents named it after what it appeared to be; a beach of black sand.  Unfortunately it was not sand, and the residents who spent their summers playing on the beach and swimming in the water were never told what the “sand” was, or warned of the impact it would have on their health decades later.

The organizations and individuals  mentioned below spent decades fighting for accurate studies, extensive research, and epidemiological studies for the Upper Columbia River and the small communities living along it.

Thanks to Citizens for a Clean Columbia (CCC), The Colville Confederate Tribe, The Lake Roosevelt Water Quality Council, The Upper Columbia United Tribes, Lake Roosevelt Forum, and every other group and individual who united to get studies done on the Upper Columbia River and then brought attention to the contamination the research discovered. The results of their research & persistence  forced Teck to stop dumping slag into the river in 1996.

Thanks to the members of the Pakootas Tribe who had the courage to petition the EPA and finally get the ball rolling on the previous and current Remedial Investigation & Feasibility Studies, as well as the Human Health Risk Assessment.

Thanks to the countless others I did not specifically name.  It is because of the participation of each individual person, fighting for the same goal, which brings about change.

In CCC’s current newsletter, “Black Sand Beach No More” describes the clean-up of Black Sand Beach by Mindy Smith, MD.  She concludes the article stating ;  “We are also interested in renaming the beach – perhaps in honor of Frank Ossiander who tirelessly fought for attention and remediation of toxins in our river.”

I was lucky enough to have had the chance to come to know Frank.  He knew if the studies and assessments of the Upper Columbia River were done objectively and accurately, using scientifically proven methods and models, the results could provide vital information needed to ensure that safety of the environment and health of future generations.

He volunteered as a statician for the CCC and ,in my opinion, became the watchdog of the studies and research being done by Teck, the EPA, Ecology and the Department of Health. He submitted lengthy lists of indiscrepencies, inaccurate information, incorrect procedures, models and formulas they used, or plan to use, in their studies.  He also provided suggestions to remedy the mistakes and flaws he found in their work plans and assessments. These mistakes, if not corrected , would make the results of the studies just as dangerous as the toxins they were studying.

It was obvious to Teck and these agencies that Frank was correct on the mistakes he found and suggestions he made. As he continued to find mistakes and offer suggestions on every study they did it was also obvious Frank was not going to stop watching.

Frank’s persistence inevitably saved many lives and more damage to our environment, not to mention he was a constant reminder to the smelter and those government agencies  that someone was watching.


Frank Ossiander

I think a more deserving name could not be found for the new beach, created from the work & dedication of so many people, and under the watchful eye of Frank.

Frank passed away late last year.  I am honored to have known him and will forever be grateful for the help and advice he gave me.  He became a mentor, helping me navigate my way through a field of studies and topics completely foreign to me.  He also became a dear friend, whose support and help changed the course of my life.  Frank’s support and help changed the course of all of our lives, and the lives of future generations.

The results of Frank’s work are accurate studies and assessments that create successful end results, like the clean-up of Black Sand Beach.  The new beach is a visual reminder of the importance to ensure the accuracy of the future studies and assessments done.  Our watchdog may be gone, but before he left he taught us all what to watch for.

Great Idea Mindy!! 



-Jamie Paparich



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