Archive for the ‘Colville Comdederated Tribes’ Category

Teck Continues to Avoid Responsibility

Colville Tribes Files Response in Teck’s 9th Circuit Appeal

For Immediate Release

July 10, 2017

 

Nespelem, WA)- – The Colville Tribes has filed a final brief in its latest 9th Circuit Court of Appeals battle with Teck Metals, a company which dumped toxic waste in the Upper Columbia River for decades.   In the past several years, Teck has suffered a series of losses in federal court battles with the Tribes, attempting to avoid liability for polluting the Columbia from its Trail, B.C. Smelter.  In its latest maneuver, Teck asked the 9th Circuit to overturn several lower court decisions in the case. Colville filed its brief on June 30, and Teck must submit a final reply brief by August 14, setting the stage for oral argument, likely in early 2018.

The Colville Tribes and the State of Washington initially sued Teck  to force Teck to participate in investigation and cleanup of the Upper Columbia in. 2008. Since then federal courts have found that Teck is liable under US environmental law  and responsible for costs of investigation and any cleanup of a 150-mile stretch of the Upper Columbia River, and that the mining company and must pay the Tribes’ legal costs in the suit. Teck is appealing these decisions, as well as an award of $8.3 million in legal fees and expert costs to the Tribes, and a decision finding that Teck must pay the entire price tag for cleanup, rather than dividing these costs among other much smaller and mostly now-defunct mining operations.

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“This is a very predictable pattern,” Dr. Michael E. Marchand, Colville Business Council Chairman, said today.  “The Colville Tribes win in court and Teck does everything it can to delay meeting its legal and moral obligations to clean up our River.”

Teck’s lead-zinc smelter in British Columbia, the largest in the world, sits just across the US border from the Colville Tribes’ traditional territories in northern Washington.  For decades Teck dumped several hundred tons per day of blast furnace slag, as well as liquid effluent into the Columbia River.

 

  “Maybe Teck believes it can wear us down by appeal after appeal, but we will not give up,” Marchand said.  “The Columbia River has always been crucial to our culture, our history, and our very survival as a people.  We look forward to the day when Teck accepts its responsibility for the damage it has caused and cleanup can begin.”

Click here for audio of article

Teck’s “dissapointment” is disgraceful

Sept. 9, 2016

By  Jamie Paparich

Last month a U.S. District Court Judge ruled Teck, a Canadian smelter, must pay the Confederated Tribes of the Colville (Washington) Reservation $8.25 million in reimbursement of the Tribe’s legal expenses that have mounted in the two decade long legal battle with the smelter.  The battle was over the millions upon millions of heavy metal toxins Teck admittedly dumped into the Columbia River for over a century.

Teck responded to this ruling, stating it was “disappointed.”  A spokesman for Teck said that the smelter has already spent over $75 million on human health risk assessments and environmental investigations of the Upper Columbia River, as part of the agreement they reached with the EPA.

In 1999 the EPA issued a unilateral order, forcing the smelter to cooperate in the studies and clean-up of the Upper Columbia River.  Teck fought this agreement, spending millions of dollars in legal fees, until 2006.  They finally began their investigation into the area in 2008, insisting on redoing studies the EPA had already completed.  The studies, assessments and clean-ups they have completed have been less than earth shattering.  As a matter of fact most of them appear to be more for good PR then for the people and the land.  If they have spent $75 million so far the majority of that money was likely spent on attorney fees for the countless appeals they have filed trying to get out of their responsibilities. 

The company also stated that they have invested $1.5 billion upgrading the smelter, in an attempt to be in regulation with their environmental permits.

I am having a difficult time sympathizing with the financial burden Teck feels has been placed upon them.  If they want to talk numbers how about these numbers; 

  • Between 1906 thru 1995 Teck dumped 58, 611, 000 tons of heavy metal toxins into our river, our beaches, our land, and our lives.   
  • Between 1982 thru 2016 over 240 Northport residents have been diagnosed with similar, rare, auto immune diseases linked to chronic heavy metal exposure. 
  • 23 residents have suffered, or died, from brain aneurisms, the majority of those 23 people lived in a 2-3 mile radius.
  • 110 residents passed away from one of four cancers often diagnosed in the community, and also linked to chronic heavy metal exposure.

If Teck is disappointed in the $8.25 million they have to pay to the Colville Tribes maybe they should take a moment and add up our numbers.

Ninth Circuit rules in favor of Teck smelter on liability claim

The Original article published at Lake Roosevelt Forum, http://www.lrf.org

A three judge panel from the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that aerial deposition from the Teck smelter in Trail, Canada does not constitute “disposal.” As such, Teck cannot be held liable for hazardous substances such as lead, arsenic and mercury emitted from Trail smoke stacks that traveled through the atmosphere and then deposited in the Upper Columbia Valley. Washington State and the Colville Confederated Tribes brought the case to hold Teck liable for cleanup costs and natural resource damages under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, or CERCLA (also known as superfund).

The court relied heavily on two precedents that parse the meaning of “disposal of waste” under CERCLA. In one of the precedents, the ninth circuit ruled that BNSF Railway emitting diesel particulate matter into the air that resettled onto the land and water did not constitute disposal of waste and thus not subject to liability under CERCLA.

News reports indicate plaintiffs will petition for a new hearing before the full 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Potentially, the case could be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Under terms of a 2006 settlement agreement between EPA and Teck, Teck has funded soil sampling and remediation related to atmospheric deposition in the Upper Columbia Valley. In 2014, EPA sampled 74 residential properties which led to cleanup on 14 properties. This year, 142 property owners granted access for soil sampling that begins this month.

Click here for a National Law Review article reviewing the case and its implications.

Teck spill adds to long history of polluting upper Columbia

Tribal Tribune   April 21, 2016

Press Release | Updated Yesterday

NESPELEM—This week Teck Cominco’s failure to manage its operations has once again sent toxic pollution into the Columbia River. It is another tragic assault by Teck on the region’s natural resources. Teck’s disregard for the land, air and water it impacts must be stopped. Our Tribes have taken action to force Teck to step up to its responsibility and the spill this week unfortunately highlights Teck’s ongoing failure to stop polluting and start cleaning up decades of waste in the U.S.

The river is the natural resource and cultural lifeblood of the Colville Tribes and must be protected and restored.

For nearly a century, Teck pumped slag, a toxic byproduct of metals refining, directly into the Columbia River. More than 10 million tons of the granular slag created the “black sand” beaches of the Upper Columbia, a 150-mile reach of the river between the Canadian border and Grand Coulee Dam.

Regulatory and legal processes will continue to guide the cleanup, but there can be no more delay in action. Several efforts to reintroduce migrating fish in the Upper Columbia are moving forward. It is critical that the sediments in the Upper Columbia be cleaned up to ensure those runs have a healthy food chain on which to thrive. Only cleanup will create that opportunity.

—Tribal Press Release

To read original article go to:  http://m.tribaltribune.com/news/article_38ffdca4-07e8-11e6-80af-d3d4f1dd7c41.html?mode=jqm

AIR MONITORING IN NORTHPORT

 smoke stack

Necessity of Air Monitoring in Northport, WA:   Part I

 

The WA Department of Ecology’s air monitoring studies completed in Northport from 1992-1998 showed extremely elevated levels of arsenic (200 times higher than the national standard), and cadmium (see the results below in part II).

No air monitoring has been done since 1998.

So has Northport continued to be exposed to these dangerous levels of arsenic and cadmium since Ecology confirmed this, 18 years ago?  Is that why residents continue to be plagued with similar auto immune diseases their parents and grandparents had?   

The EPA is currently working on obtaining air monitoring in the area, but since Teck is conducting the RI/FS of the area it is a matter of convincing them to cooperate. 

Keep reading to learn how

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Necessity of Air Monitoring in Northport, WA:   Part II

Summary of Ecology’s Northport Air Quality Studies,

Phases I – IV, (1992-1998) 

 

ECOLOGY/EPA  ACRONYMS

Screening Acronyms used by Ecology and EPA in testing certain heavy metal toxins:

    • Acceptable Source Impact Level (ASIL): Toxins must be found at or below the ASIL set by the EPA based on Standard ambient air background levels throughout the State.
    • Risk Based Specific Concentration Level (RSC): Toxins found at or above the RSC set by the EPA are considered high enough to pose as a risk to the environment and human health.

EPA AIR EMISSION SAFETY LEVELS

 

Arsenic Safety/Risk Levels:

  • The ASIL:  .00023 micrograms per cubic meter (ug/m3)
  • The RSC:  0.0023 ug/m3

Cadmium Safety/Risk Levels:

  • The ASIL:  .00056 ug/m3
  • The RSC:  0.1164 ug/m3

 

RESULTS OF AIR MONITORING STUDIES (4 phases) 

 

PHASE  I  &  PHASE  II

PHASE I:   Dec. 15, 1992 – Feb. 13, 1993

• Five air monitors installed

• 100 samples of particulate matter (PM) collected and analyzed for lead, arsenic, and particulate matter.

PHASE II:   Aug. 10, 1993 – Oct. 30, 1993

• Seven air monitors installed

• The particulate filters were scanned for 30 toxic metals, cadmium, zinc, antimony, lead, copper, arsenic, and manganese.

• Computer Modeling conducted to better “understand the probable sources of pollutants…”

RESULTS:

ARSENIC

    • Phase I –     maximum arsenic level detected:  .25 ug/m3 
    • Phase II –    maximum arsenic level detected:  0.1164 ug/m3
    • Results –   Arsenic exceeded EPA’s ASIL and RSC levels in both phases.

CADMIUM

** Cadminum was only tested in the Phase II air monitoring
    • Phase II – maximum cadmium level detected:  .0474 ug/m3
    • Results –   Cadmium exceeded EPA’s ASIL and RSC levels

COMPUTER MODELING

The results of the computer modeling done in Phase II confirmed “…the monitoring data results in predicting that winds and pollutants from the (Teck) smelter can easily travel down the Columbia River Valley to produce moderately high pollutant concentrations in the study area.”

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PHASE III

PHASE III:   Nov. 3, 1993 – Aug. 6, 1994

• One monitoring site – located 3 miles NE of Northport on “Paparich”

• Metals evaluated – lead, arsenic, cadmium

RESULTS

ARSENIC

    • Phase III:   Arsenic maximum yearly average:  .12 ug/m3
    • Results:   Arsenic exceeded EPA’s ASIL and RSC levels in phase III

CADMIUM

    • Phase III:   Cadmium maximum yearly average:  .04 ug/m3
    • Results:   Cadmium exceeded EPA’s ASIL and RSC levels in phase III

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PHASE IV

PHASE IV:   Sept. 5, 1997 – Dec. 31, 1998

• Three monitoring sites in Northport

• Metals evaluated – arsenic, lead, cadmium, zinc

RESULTS

ARSENIC

    • Phase IV:    Arsenic maximum yearly average:  .02 ug/m3
    • Results:    Arsenic exceeded EPA’s ASIL and RSC Levels in phase IV

CADMIUM

    • Phase IV:    Cadmium maximum yearly average:  .01 ug/m3
    • Results:   Cadmium exceeded EPA’s ASIL and RSC Levels in phase IV

 

CONCLUSION

In conclusion;  of the four Air Monitoring Studies conducted by Ecology between 1992 thru 1998 the level of arsenic and cadmium consistently exceeded all safety standards.  The levels found were high enough to pose a risk to our environment and human health.Ecology concluded in phase IV monitoring that they would:

continue its efforts to fine- tune the MM5, CALMET and CALPUFF air quality models for utilization in the Northport study area. …(I)n addition to evaluating the need for further emission reductions at the (Teck) facility, the above models will be used to determine pollutant impact “hot spots” and optimum long-term air quality monitoring site locations (in Northport).”

No air monitoring has taken place in Northport since the conclusion of phase IV in 1998.  For 18 years the community of Northport has been exposed to unsafe levels of arsenic and cadmium, levels the Department of Ecology knew about, and warned the EPA about…..but no one warned the residents of Northport, and no one has bothered to follow up.

The EPA and Ecology are currently, and so far unsuccessfully, trying to obtain funding from Teck to install air monitors in and around Northport. 

We can assist the EPA  and Ecology in obtaining this funding.  

Keep reading to find out how.

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Necessity of Air Monitoring in Northport, WA:   Part III

 

**See letter to copy/sign/paste/send to EPA contact requesting air monitoring at end of article**

So, it was established in the air monitoring conducted by Ecology from 1992-1998 that the levels of arsenic and cadmium in Northport’s air was much higher than safety standards, and risk based concentrations.  The levels of Arsenic were actually 200 times higher than those found at the worst smelter Superfund site in the world, Tacoma Smelter.   Our air was not safe.

EPA and Ecology have been unable to further monitor Northport’s air because of lack of funding, and honestly we fall pretty low on their priority list.  They are currently trying to get Teck to fund air monitoring in the area as part of the Superfund clean-up agreement. Teck is arguing that they are not responsible under CERCLA law for their air emissions.

What the EPA and Teck did not share with the public is that Teck did continued to monitor Northport air, with one monitor, between 1994-2006

Tucked away in appendix G of Teck’s Upper Columbia River remedial investigation/feasibility study, volume 2, is the results of this air monitoring.  Arsenic and Cadmium continue to be way above safety standards and risk based concentrations.  The EPA was not even aware this data existed, or that they had access to it, until I asked them about it. 

To help EPA obtain the funding for air monitors in Northport a demand must be shown. 

If past and present Northport resident, and residents of surrounding communities, copy, paste, and sign the below letter and send it to our EPA project manager, Laura Buelow at buelow.laura@epa.gov, our chances increase ten fold.

 

Please, take five minutes to do this.  Those five minutes can help protect generations of Northport residents to come.

 

____________________________________________

LETTER TO EPA PROJECT MANAGER

(COPY, PASTE, E-MAIL TO:  buelow.laura@epa.gov)

Ms. Beulow:

I am writing to ask EPA to consider an air monitoring study in and around Northport, WA. I believe that the results of the residential soil study clearly show that a formal air monitoring study should be performed in the study area. Aerial deposition of contaminants did occur in the study area and it needs to be determined if this contamination is ongoing.

The results of the four air monitoring studies conducted by the Department of Ecology in Northport between 1992-1998 found levels of arsenic and cadmium to consistently exceed the ASIL and RSC levels.  At the levels reported, the EPA considers them high enough to pose as a risk to the environment and human health.

The results of the air monitoring Teck conducted in Northport between 1994 – 2006 can be found in the EPA/Teck Report: Upper Columbia River remedial investigation/feasibility study, volume 2, appedix G. Unfortunately, Arsenic and Cadmium continue to be way above the ASIL & RSC safety standards and risk based concentrations.

Based on this information, along with ongoing health studies in the area, it seems logical that the contamination is ongoing.

An air monitoring study should be performed for a minimum of 18 months at  the following locations:  Two high level lead contamination site (established in the residential soil study results),  and at one low level lead contamination control site.  Two high level arsenic/cadmium site (established in Ecology air monitoring study), and at one low level arsenic/cadmium site.

Some or all of these sites may need to be monitored over a longer period, depending on the results of the 18-month study.

Sincerely,

name

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.

ghoekstra@vancouversun.com

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