Archive for the ‘Northport’ 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 Smelter – Timeline of Pollution

A CENTURY OF EVIDENCE

Teck is one of the world’s largest lead and zinc smelters, located in Trail, B.C. Canada. This timeline of Teck Smelter’s pollution and accidental spills was created using data from their records and documentation of events, as well as data from The Canadian B.C. Environment Ministry and the United State’s Environmental Protection Agency.  

The below timeline does not include many of the accidental detailed air emission releases.   These emissions continues to exceed U.S. Safety Standards.  To read more about the air emissions click on the air monitoring tab across the top of the home page.

  • 1906 –   Production begins at the Trail Smelter (now Teck) in Trail, B.C. Canada.
  • 1916 –    Trail’s releasing  a monthly output of 4,700 tonnes of sulphur dioxide through air emissions.
  • 1920 –    Due to World War I the smelter’s output drastically accelerated, increasing output of sulphur dioxide to 10,000 tonnes a month.
  • 1921-2005 –  Trail’s estimate of total annual air emissions (containing zinc, lead, arsenic, cadmium, and mercury) was 600,000 tonnes.
  • 1931 –    Trail’s fuming furnace processed 150,000 tonnes of blast furnace slag.  (Slag is the by-product of the smelting process and is a sand like material that contains heavy metal toxins.)
    • Trail’s operations expanded to include the manufacturing of ammonium sulfate and ammonium phosphate fertilizer.
  • 1933 –  Farmers from Northport sue the Trail Smelter for damages the smelter’s air pollution (sulfur dioxide) caused to their stock and crops.
  • 1940 –  Teck Cominco (formerly Trail Smelter) is admittedly dumping up to 1000 tonnes of heavy metal toxins (slag) into the river daily, including 3.6 tonnes of mercury a year.

**  The explanation given to us regarding the gap of missing information/documentation from 1940 to 1980 was an inability to locate the 40 years of documentation, possibly due to a warehouse fire.

  • 1980 to 1996 –  Records show the average amount of slag Teck dumps from mid 1980’s through 1996 is 450 tonnes a day
  • 1980 –   Accidental releases into Air/River:  15 tonnes of sulfuric acid released from smoke stack, 7 tonnes of mercury released into the Columbia River (River), 500 gallons of ammonia hydrosulfide, 30 tonnes of sulfuric acid, 24 tonnes of sulfuric acid released into the River.
  • 1981 – Accidental releases in the River:  9.5 tonnes of zinc, 9.5 tonnes of sulfuric acid, 4000 gallons ammonia hydrosulfide, 93 tonnes of sulfuric acid.  
    • A memo, from Canada’s B.C. Environment Ministry, estimates Teck has been dumping up to 20 pounds of mercury a day into the river for an unknown amount of years.
  • 1982 – Accidental releases in the River:  6,330 pounds of mercury.
    • Teck does not report the massive spill to Canadian Authorities for 5 weeks. Once the Canadian Ministry notifies the United States authorities no action is taken, neither to warn residents in communities or tribes along the river, or an environmental investigation. The Canadian Ministry files a lawsuit against Teck. The smelter eventually pleads guilty and pays a $5000 fine to Canada’s B.C. Environment Ministry.
  • 1983 – 1986No recorded spills 
  • 1987  Accidental releases in the River: 15 tonnes of sulfuric acid.

  • 1988   Accidental releases in the River: 5 tonnes of zinc.

  • 1989 – Accidental releases in the River:  Amount “unknown” of Arsenic (July 17th), amount “unknown” of gypsum & phosphuric acid, (July 16th), neutral thickener – 60,000 liters, “yellow substance” – 305 meters long. 

  • 1990 – Accidental releases in the River: 31 gallons of mercury “unknown” amount of zinc (Sept. 4th), 300-400 gallons of sulfuric acid.  (Teck’s spill of 300-400 gallons of concentrated sulfuric acid is not reported until 14 hours after time of spill because, according to the B.C. Environment Incident Report, the plant’s alarm did not sound.)

  • 1991 – Accidental releases in the River: .16 mg/l of cadmium, .08 mg/l mercury, 289 mg/l of lead, 29.8 mg/l of zinc, 4.55 tonnes of sulfuric acid, 9.4 tonnes of phosphoric acid, 6.7 tonnes of phosphates, 50 tonnes of partially “treated” slag, and 50 tonnes of furnace oil.
    • Teck violates their waste management permit with a spill of zinc and cadmium. They plead guilty and agree to pay $40,000 towards a Canadian river study. Teck’s toxins impact only approximately 3 miles of the Columbia River before crossing into the United States.  However, the $40,000 study stopped at the Canadian border.
  • 1992 –  Accidental releases in the River:  132,000,000 mg/l of mercury, 214,000,000 mg/l of zinc, 476 gallons of sulfuric acid, 1.5 tonnes of phosphoric acid, 75 gallons of ammonium bisulphite.
    • Teck records indicate, on average, dumping 200 tonnes of sulfuric acid a day into the river. Their Canadian discharge permits allow this, the United States has access to these documents and the right to issue a stop, the United States never requests to see any documents.
  • 1993 –  Accidental releases in the River:  “unknown” amount of arsenic, “unkonwn” amount of cadmium, 25,000,000 mg/l of mercury, 600,000,000 mg/l of zinc, 13,000 tonnes of sulfuric acid.
    • Teck also reports an accidental spill of a large amount of sediment containing arsenic and cadmium.
    • A memo from Canadian regulators to Teck says a better river monitoring system needs to be installed.
    • Richard Dalosse, the Regional Environment Manager, also sends an internal memo to his supervisors. In it he says; “If we fail to ensure accurate monitoring of this discharge, it is possible that we could be held civilly or criminally liable.”
  • 1994 – Accidental releases in the River: .22 tonnes and “unknown” amount of arsenic, .21 tonnes of cadmium, 2,000,000 mg/l of mercury (16 exceedences for the year), 1.50 mg/l of lead, “unknown” amount of zinc, 3.5 billion mg/l of ammonia.
    • A Canadian river study, conducted under the “Columbia River Integrated Environmental Monitoring Program”, is published. It states that a significant amount of heavy metal toxins were found in river sediments south of Trail (Waneta & Northport, Washington.
  • 1995 – Accidental releases in the River 12,500,000 mg/l of arsenic, 186,000,000 mg/l of cadmium, 8,190,000 mg/l of mercury, 63,800,000 mg/l of lead, 2.5 tonnes of zinc, 1000 gallons of sulfuric acid.  (The accidental spill of 1000 gallons of sulfuric acid is reported by the smelter. Per their records the accident was attributed to “lack of attention” on part of a worker.)
    • An internal BC Ministry memo states that the ongoing mercury spills by the smelter “…..are of serious concern due to the persistence & bio accumulative nature (of mercury)”
  • 1996 – Accidental releases in the River:  640,000,000 mg/l of arsenic, 4,760,000 mg/l of cadmium, 30,000 mg/l of mercury, 30,000 mg/l of lead, 2.3 tonnes of zinc, 75 tonnes of slag.
    • Teck records show an average daily ALLOWED discharge of: 40 pounds of lead, 135 pounds of cadmium, 9 pounds of mercury and more than 16,000 pounds of zinc.
    • Teck halts the practice of dumping slag into the river, (not including the 75 tonnes spilled accidentally that year). Teck begins storing the slag, later selling it to the concrete industry.
  • 1997 – Accidental releases in the River3 tonnes of cadmium, 3 tonnes of mercury, 1.4 tonnes of lead, 500,000,000 mg/l of zinc.
    • The Colville Confederate Tribe completes a study regarding the impact of Teck’s century of discharging heavy metal toxins may have had on their environment and human health.
    • The reports concludes that between 1994-1997 Teck’s discharges of arsenic, cadmium and lead equal more than the discharges of ALL the lead and zinc smelters combined through-out the United States.
  • 1998 – Accidental releases in the River:  73,360,000 mg/l of arsenic, 26,000,000 mg/l of cadmium, 177,000,000 mg/l of zinc, 3.4 tonnes of slag.  (Although Teck claims no slag has been released into the river since 1996.)
  • 1999 – Accidental releases in the River:  29.04 mg/l of cadmium, 271,000,000 mg/l of zinc, “unknown” amount of contaminated water.
  • 2000 – Accidental releases in the River:  14,200,000 mg/l of cadmium, 350,000,000 mg/l of zinc.
  • 2001 –  Accidental releases in the River:  1,923 pounds of mercury, 529,700,000 mg/l of zinc.

**  Teck’s records show 86 accidental spills between 1987-2001, the spills listed above are the only ones that documentation could be found on.

  • 2004–  Records, released by the Canadian B.C. Ministry, estimate that Teck has been dumping approximately 1.6 tonnes – 3.6 tonnes of mercury annually into the river since 1940.
  • 2008 –  Teck records a spill of 2,068 pounds of lead and 420 quarts of acid
  • 2010 –  Teck spills approx. 15,000,000 mg/l of mercury into the river when there is a leak while employees are working on pipes at the facility.
  • 2014 –  Teck reports a spill of 12,000 and 25,000 liters of a sodium hydroxide solution

Between 1921 – 2005  Teck released;  38,465 tonnes of Zinc,  22,688 tonnes of Lead,  1,225 tonnes of Arsenic,  1,103 tonnes of Cadmium, and  97 tonnes of Mercury through their air emissions.

Between 1906 – 1995  Teck released;  1,314,00 tonnes of Lead,  4,434,750 tonnes of Cadmium, 302,250 tonnes of Mercury, and 525,600,000 tonnes of Zinc from the slag dumped into the Columbia River.

“The estimated 9.8 million tons (of slag) that Cominco has dumped into the river is equivalent to a dump truck emptying 19 tons every hour for 60 years.”  

– Karen Dorn Steel,  The Spokesman Review (2003)

The accidental spills the smelter has had over the years were eventually reported to the US Agencies by the Canadian B.C. Environment Ministry.  However in every reported case neither the Canadian Ministry, nor the United States Health Department (DOH), or Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) informed any of the communities, located just a few miles down river.

Under their own guidelines this is a criminal act of negligence.

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Northport Song

The next Below is a song about Northport I found in some of my Grandparent’s belongings.  I am not sure when the song was written, or where it was performed.  The writer / composer is at the top of the lyric sheet below.  

________________________________________________________

Written and composed by:

Harris K. Moku, Jr.

Special thanks to:

Davey Mendenhall

Wayne Christoferson

NORTHPORT

 

I’d like to tell you a story my friend,

‘Bout a place up north in Washington,

Where the people have the easiest type of living’,

They are so kind to strangers there,

No matter where you are from,

And their hearts are so full of giving,

 

Chorus

(And) the birch trees are playing in the summer wind,

And I know I’m going back again

To Northport

To a little farm deep in the woods,

Where a creek divides the roads,

To a place where you roamed as a child,

It’s been a long long long, long while.

 

In the winter-time the earth is white,

With the snowflakes falling oh so light,

In the spring-time all the meadows turn so green.

The birds keep singing in the trees,

And the skies are so blue,

It’s got to be the most beautiful place you’ve seen.

 

Chorus

(Where) the birch trees are playing….

The birch trees are playing in the summer wind,

And you know for sure I’m going back again,

To Northport……..Northport here I come.

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.

The Death List

by:  Jamie Paparich

In 1992 reporter Julie Titone wrote an article in the Spokesman-Review, “Canadian companies suspected in illnesses.”  The article focused on a group of mothers in Northport, Washington and the health effects their small community suffered from because of, in their opinion, chronic exposure to the heavy metal toxins released by a Canadian smelter 3 miles up river, Teck Cominco.

The article begins with neighbors Naomi Palm, Faye Jackman, and Kay Paparich sitting in Naomi’s kitchen. In front of Naomi was her hand written notes of a health survey the women conducted in the community.  The notes listed the similar illnesses her and all her neighbors, family, and friends suffered from.  Naomi called it her “death list”.  The list contained 45 previous residents who passed away from four types of cancer, and 163 residents all suffering from similar diseases. In a town of 375 people the list was alarming, to say the least.

At the time of the article the small community was paralyzed with fear. Children continued to be diagnosed with two rare intestinal diseases, friends and neighbors were passing away from brain aneurisms or tumors, cancer, or suffering from the debilitating effects of multiple scoliosis and parkinson’s disease.

The town first became aware of the startling amount of illnesses being diagnosed in the community in the late 1970’s.  After repeated requests, the Washington State Department of Health finally did a health investigation in 1988.  However, the health investigator who conducted the investigation left the department and the findings were never made public.

So in 1991 these determined women began conducting their own health survey of the community.  After months of knocking on doors they compiled the information their neighbors had provided.  They discovered that of the 7 families living along Mitchell Road, all living within a 2 mile radius of each other, fifteen children had been diagnosed with 2 rare auto immune diseases, ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. At the time of the survey approximately 1 in 100,000 people were diagnosed with either Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn’s in the United States.

The woman also discovered that of the six families living along Waneta Road, across the Columbia River from Mitchell Road, 12 people had died, or suffered from, brain aneurisms or brain tumors.  Statistically 8-10 people out of 100,000 people suffer from a brain aneurism in the United States.    

Naomi mapped out the illnesses collected from their survey in an attempt to understand if their route of exposure to the smelter’s toxins might be the common denominator effecting their families with these rare illnesses.  Their exposures differed in many ways. Not everyone swam in the river, not everyone grew their own gardens, or ate the fish…..but the one common denominator quickly became clear.  It was the air.  The families all lived in a valley, next to the Columbia River.  The pollution flowing north from the smelter often got trapped in the valley walls.

Two months after the 1992 article was published the Washington State Department of Ecology began the first of four phases of air monitoring in the area.  The results of all four phases of the monitoring showed that levels of arsenic were 200 times higher than national safety standards, and levels of cadmium were 18 times higher.  Ecology issued the smelter a warning that continuous air monitoring of the area was necessary.  The residents of Northport were never made aware of these results.  Teck did continue to monitor the air until 2006, according to EPA documents.  The levels of arsenic and cadmium continued to exceed safety standards at the same rate.

The 1992 article ended with Kay Paparich voicing her concern for future generations of Northport residents, “It’s too late for my children because they’ve already got these problems, but what about the little ones coming up?”

“The little ones coming up”, that Kay was so concerned about in 1992, are now in their 20’s and 30’s, suffering from the same illnesses that these women discussed in Naomi’s kitchen 24 years ago.

In 2009 residents conducted another community health survey of past and present Northport residents.  The results mirrored those of the 1991 community health survey, and confirmed Kay’s concerns were valid.  Not only were residents still being diagnosed with the same health issues, at the same rate, reported cases of multiple scoliosis, Parkinson’s and cases of the four types of cancers of concern had increased.

What these women discovered by coming together and using plain common sense, took government agencies decades, and millions of dollars, to finally realize.  The agencies were able to negotiate with the smelter to remove contaminated soil from beaches along the Columbia River, residential property, and upland soil.  However, the air still continues to be ignored.  If the smelter is monitoring it, they are no longer sharing the results with our government agencies, and our government agencies are not monitoring it.

The 1929 & 1936 USDA studies, the 1992 – 1998 Ecology air monitoring studies, the 1994 – 2006 Teck air monitoring, EPA’s decade long remedial investigations, along with Ecology’s soil and wetland studies, The Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA), and Teck’s own remedial investigations, have all confirmed specific heavy metal contamination of the Upper Columbia River area, specifically in and around Northport.  It has forensically and scientifically confirmed that the source of contamination is Teck Resources. More specifically, the primary source of contamination is from Teck’s aerial dispersion of heavy metal toxins, through their smoke stacks.

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).”

To simplify the 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.

Currently the air in Northport is not being monitored.  Ecology does not have the funds to install monitoring, the EPA has not been able to negotiate it as part of Teck’s remedial investigation and human health risk assessment.

Teck’s air emissions have poisoned over three generations of Northport residents.  Nothing is being done to protect the next three generations, or the generations after that.

To request air monitors be installed in and around Northport contact EPA project manager Laura Buelow at: Buelow.Laura@epa.gov

TECK SPILL ALERT: Toxins from Teck’s Landfill/Arsenic Storage Area spilled into Columbia River ~ April, 2016 ~

 

April 13, 2016

 

SPILL ALERT:  Teck Smelter, Trail B.C.

Due to a failure of a sump pump at Teck Smelter in B.C.,  leachate from an old landfill and arsenic storage area has been released into Stony Creek, which discharges into the Columbia River. The specific toxins and the amounts released is not yet known at this time.     

Response and Monitoring – in progress.

Matt Schanz, with the Environmental Public Health Director for Northeast Tri-County Health District, will be in contact with Board Members of the Citizens for a Clean Columbia (CCC), and the CCC will keep the Northport Community updated on more information as it becomes available.

Thank you to Mindy Smith, from the CCC, in making the Northport Community  aware of the most current, and possibly dangerous release by Teck Metals.

Click here for updated news report.

WA Judges Skeptical that Superfund Includes Teck Smelter’s Airborne Waste- SERIOUSLY

From Toxics Law Reporter

By Steven M. Sellers

April 6 — A Ninth Circuit panel appeared disinclined to find that the Superfund law includes contaminants that traveled by air from a Canadian smelter onto a contaminated U.S. site.

The seemingly skeptical three-judge panel considered sharply contrasting oral arguments on how far the U.S. hazardous waste law extends Apr. 6.

The appeal, based on the judges’ questioning, may turn on the court’s interpretation of a related law with terms similar to those in the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (Pakootas v. Teck Cominco Metals Ltd., 9th Cir., No. 15-35228, oral arguments 4/6/16).

Kevin M. Fong, of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman in San Francisco, who represented smelter owner Teck Cominco Metals Ltd., argued that Teck had no “arranger liability” for aerial emissions from its smokestacks because CERCLA requires a direct deposit of contaminants onto land or into water .

But the State of Washington, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, and the Department of Justice (as an amicus party) panned that narrower view, saying it would subvert CERCLA’s remedial intent.

Superfund liability attaches when an entity “arranges” for the disposal of hazardous substances and those substances are “deposited” or “disposed of” at a site, at which point the site becomes a “facility,” here the Upper Columbia River Superfund Site.

‘Disposals’ and ‘Deposits’ Debated

Whether deposits of emissions from the smelter’s smokestacks in British Columbia fit the CERCLA mold is the crux of the appeal.

David Gualtieri, who argued for the Department of Justice, said the lack of court decisions on the aerial emission issue in the case reflected long-accepted notions of CERCLA’s broad reach and its goal of remediating contamination of land and water—even when, as here, it arrives by air .

“Why shouldn’t we take the government’s arguments as the tie-breaker even though it’s in an amicus brief?” Judge Consuelo M. Callahan asked Fong, noting a lack of specific EPA pronouncements on CERCLA’s applicability to aerial emissions.

Previous Ruling Questioned

But the panel also had to wrestle with a 2014 Ninth Circuit ruling on a related statute—the Resource Conservation & Recovery Act—in which the court limited the meaning of a “disposal” of hazardous substances to solid waste discharged directly onto land or into water (Ctr. for Cmty. Action & Envtl. Justice v. BNSF Ry.Co., 764 F.3d 1019 (9th Cir. 2014).

Judge Johnnie B. Rawlinson asked counsel whether the court was bound byBNSF‘s definition of “disposal” even though the terms arise in two different statutes.

“We’re bound by the decisions of a prior panel,” Rawlinson said.

Fong agreed, but Gualtieri countered that BNSF doesn’t apply because it involves a fact-specific application of RCRA not intended to apply to CERCLA.

Andrew Fitz, who argued for the Washington State Attorney General’s office, concurred with Gaultieri, adding that CERCLA’s application to air emissions is well-established despite a lack of specific EPA regulations.

“A disposal occurs when it hits the land or water,” said Fitz, who disagreed that CERCLA excludes emissions that travel any distance through the air.

“If I carry a barrel of waste in the air, under Teck’s argument there’s no liability,” said Fitz, adding that involved railroad waste.

The court didn’t seem fully convinced.

“If the only distinction is that it was a railroad, you have to do better than that,” replied Callahan.

A decision in the appeal isn’t expected for several months.

Judges Michael Daly Hawkins, Johnnie B. Rawlinson and Consuelo M. Callahan heard the case.

The law offices of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman represented Teck Cominco Metals Ltd.

The Washington State Attorney General’s Office represented the State of Washington.

The Department of Justice represented the federal government as amicus curiae.

To contact the reporter on this story: Steven M. Sellers in Washington atssellers@bna.com.

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