Archive for the ‘Cominco’ 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

AIR MONITORING IN NORTHPORT: 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.

ARSENIC SAFETY/RISK LEVELS SET BY EPA:

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

CADMIUM SAFETY/RISK LEVELS SET BY EPA:

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

 

 

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:  Phase I & Phase II

ARSENIC

Arsenic exceeded EPA’s ASIL and RSC levels in both phases.

    • Phase I – maximum arsenic level detected:  .25 ug/m3
    • Phase II – maximum arsenic level detected: 0.1164 ug/m3

CADMIUM (*Cadmium was only tested in the Phase II air monitoring.)

Cadmium exceeded EPA’s ASIL and RSC levels in phase II.

    • Phase II – maximum cadmium level detected:  .0474 ug/m3

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.”

 

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:  Phase III

ARSENIC

Arsenic exceeded EPA’s ASIL and RSC levels in phase III

    • Phase III:   Arsenic maximum yearly average:  .12 ug/m3

CADMIUM

Cadmium exceeded EPA’s ASIL and RSC levels in phase III

    • Phase III:   Cadmium maximum yearly average:  .04 ug/m3

 

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

• Three monitoring sites in Northport

• Metals evaluated – arsenic, lead, cadmium, zinc

RESULTS:  Phase IV

ARSENIC

Arsenic exceeded EPA’s ASIL and RSC levels in phase IV

    • Phase IV:   Arsenic maximum yearly average:  .02 ug/m3

CADMIUM

Cadmium exceeded EPA’s ASIL and RSC Levels in phase IV

    • Phase IV:    Cadmium maximum yearly average:  .01 ug/m3

 

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 levels.  Ecology agreed to approve Teck’s request for a new permit in 1996 for a new “KIVCET” smelter, with the condition that phase IV of the air monitoring proved the new Kivcet smelter reduced the levels of arsenic and cadmium to safe levels in and around Northport.  The results of phase IV proved only that the levels stayed the same, still unsafe.  Ecology approved the permit anyway, but concluded in phase IV 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.

The EPA is currently, and so far unsuccessfully, trying to obtain funding from Teck to install air monitors in and around Northport.  The Ministry of Environment in Canada recently fined Teck 3.4 million dollars for their spills into the Columbia River.  Perhaps, the Canadian Ministry could provide the funding for the air monitors needed 3 miles down river from Teck?  Doubtful.

How can you help get air monitors in Northport?  I will share how in part 3 of the air monitoring blog next week!

Teck Resources, polluter headed toward day of reckoning

The Seattle Times
Editorials
Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Columbia polluter headed toward day of reckoning

FOR decades, Canadian smelter Teck Cominco used the Upper Columbia River and Lake Roosevelt as an industrial sewer, dumping millions of tons of heavy metals and slag into the water.

The company — now known as Teck Resources — has fought responsibility for the pollution and cleanup every inch of the way. Every sniffling excuse has been rebuffed in court with the equivalent of legal eye rolls. It happened again.

A federal judge dismissed the company’s attempt to shift and divide liability among a bunch of unspecified other polluters. Don’t blame us, the company’s lawyers, Quibble and Delay, argued. It was those guys.

Evasion of responsibility has been the standard tactic, and federal courts all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court have been unimpressed.

Decades of reckless toxic discharge from the smelter in Trail, B.C., just over the border, are heading for an accounting in federal court in September in Yakima. If the court puts the legal liability on Teck, the company could bear the full cost of cleanup.

The long fight to hold the company accountable was launched by two Colville tribal leaders, who were joined by the state.

Expect more efforts to seek delay, spread costs and share the blame, but the focus is being narrowed and headed toward a legal and financial reckoning.

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