Archive for the ‘Teck America’ Category

Northport residents continue to fight for long term air monitors as more and more residents continue to be diagnosed with debilitating diseases

Northport residents renew calls for air monitoring after state modeling says a Canadian smelter is polluting their town

Fri., March 16, 2018, 6 a.m.

By Becky Kramer

beckyk@spokesman.com

(509) 459-5466

Clifford Ward lives near Northport, Washington, a town of about 300 people in forested area along the upper Columbia River.

Despite its remote location, the city is downwind from a large industrial operation. About 15 miles to the north in Trail, British Columbia, Teck Resources Ltd. runs one of the world’s largest integrated lead and zinc smelters and refineries.

Modeling done by the state Department of Ecology indicated the smelter could be sending the highest known airborne levels of arsenic and lead in Washington, Oregon and Idaho over the international border.

In December, Ward and more than 100 other local residents petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to install air monitors from Northport to the border.

“I think we have the right to know what it is that we may or may not be breathing,” said Ward, a board member of Citizens for a Clean Columbia, a local activist group.

Both the state of Washington and the local Northeast Tri-County Health District support the monitoring, but EPA officials haven’t made a decision.

“We are still reviewing it,” said Mark MacIntyre, an EPA spokesman in Seattle.

The Teck smelter has operated for more than a century. It’s better known for its historic releases of pollution into the Columbia River, which is the subject of ongoing litigation against the company by the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation and the state.

Chad Pederson, a Teck Resources spokesman, said the company has spent more than $85 million on studies to determine if historical disposal practices at the Trail smelter have caused unacceptable risks to human health or the environment. The studies are being conducted with EPA oversight.

The Department of Ecology’s modeling, however, looks at the smelter’s projected air emissions for more recent years. Air quality monitoring hasn’t been conducted on the Washington side of the border since 2009.

Ecology officials used six years of air monitoring data from British Columbia’s government to project levels of heavy metal crossing the border between 2009 and 2014.

“It predicts what may be occurring in Washington state, since we don’t have current data sets,” said John Roland, the state’s Upper Columbia site project manager.

Average lead levels modeled at the U.S.-Canadian border were about seven times higher than the Northwest’s next-largest reading, The modeling effort also projected elevated cadmium levels, but a Portland air quality monitor next to an art-glass foundry had recorded higher levels.

The projected metals crossing the border are measured in micrograms per cubic meter. While they wouldn’t pose a short-term health risk to local residents, long-term inhalation could increase people’s risk of getting cancer, according to the Department of Ecology.

Based on the smelter’s sheer size, it’s not surprising it would be the region’s largest emitter of airborne metals, said Roland.

Roland said the state wants a say in designing any future air monitoring that occurs in the Northport area. Since the smelter now accepts some types of electronic waste for recycling, the list of metals monitored may need to be expanded, he said.

Teck officials, however, dispute the need for air quality monitoring in the Northport area.

“Ecology’s request for renewed air monitoring in the U.S. misunderstands the data Teck reports to the B.C. government, as well as (the) Trail operations modern compliance history,” Pederson, the company spokesman, said in an email.

Teck has spent more than $1.5 billion in modernizing the Trail smelter since the mid-1990s. Pederson said the investments have improved operations and reduced air and water emissions by more than 95 percent.

Northport residents need ongoing air monitoring, said Jamie Paparich, whose family owns property north of town. Without the data, people won’t know if they’re currently being exposed to risky levels of metals, she said.

The Northeast Tri-County Health District takes a similar position, said Matt Schanz, the administrator. Though Teck has substantially reduced its emissions, airborne arsenic and lead levels are a public health issue, he said.

“It’s really important that we understand the impacts on our own side of the border,” Schanz said.

Wall Street Journal article on Northport!

The Wall Street JournalThe Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal

New Twist in Pollution Case

Canadian Smelter’s Legal Maneuver Frustrates Residents Along Northwest Border

September 11, 2012, 9:42 p.m. ET

By JOEL MILLMAN

NORTHPORT, Wash.—Ranching families and American Indian tribes along the Columbia River here have long accused a refinery across the river in Canada of poisoning their land.

In a surprise move, the plant’s owner, Canadian refining giant Teck Resources Ltd., said late Monday that its Teck Metals unit would no longer contest that it is responsible for discharging contaminants into the U.S. in a federal trial that had been set to begin next week. Instead, Teck agreed to proceed to phase two of the trial in October, which will culminate in a judge’s eventual ruling on any liability for pollution damages and cleanup costs. Teck continues to say it isn’t responsible for extensive pollution of the river.

Turmoil in Northport

[SB10000872396390443884104577645731587542126]

Matt Mills McKnight for The Wall Street Journal

Ranching families, especially Kay Papariches and her family and their neighbors along Mitchell Road, which hugs a bend in the Columbia River, report diagnoses of cancers and multiple sclerosis that they believe came from swimming in the Columbia, and from using river water for fields and cattle.

The company’s legal maneuver represents a mixed blessing for residents of this tiny border community on the U.S. side.

Washington state and the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation had filed suit in federal court against Teck, whose sprawling Trail, British Columbia, smelter began operating on the Columbia River in 1896. The trial was set to begin Sept. 17 as the initial step in establishing any clean-up costs, and residents had hoped the trial would soon clarify the extent of any damages.

While the company may eventually pay damages, any dollar amount won’t be set until at least 2015, meaning it will be three years or more before residents here know the extent of any damages.

Some people here had been looking forward to seeing Teck’s alleged discharging of waste from its Canada plant examined in court, and hoped evidence in the trial would bolster their own efforts to hold the company accountable for illnesses they say have plagued families here for decades.

“I hope it can at least get it stopped for future generations,” said Barbara Anderson, an artist who has lived here since 1975. Mrs. Anderson, 59 years old, believes her teenage daughter’s ulcerative colitis was caused directly by smelter heavy metals. They are not currently suing the company.

In the past century, some residents complained about damage to crops from Teck’s operations, which occasionally led to small settlements. In 1941, the Trail smelter was cited in an International Joint Commission arbitration ruling that no country can permit air pollution that harms the citizens or property in another country, said Rachael Paschal Osborn, staff attorney for the Center for Environmental Law & Policy in Spokane, Wash.

In this town of barely 350 residents, locals have long complained of higher-than-normal rates of certain maladies. Ranching families, especially on Mitchell Road, which runs along a bend in the Columbia River, report diagnoses of cancers and multiple sclerosis that they believe came from swimming in the Columbia, and from using river water for fields and cattle.

A recent Harvard Medical School study determined that Northport has 10 to 15 times the normal rates of certain inflammatory bowel maladies such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. “It seems like a provocative cluster,” said Joshua Korzenik, an author of the study, who now is seeking funding for a full epidemiological survey of the town’sresidents to attempt to confirm if there is a link to any pollution.

image

Washington state health officials say the connection isn’t conclusive.

Teck officials say the disease clusters could be related to family genetics and factors other than pollution from its plant.

Teck’s most recent court case began in 2004, when the Confederated Tribes of Colville brought suit in U.S. court in Yakima, Wash. Their goal: to force Teck to comply with Superfund rules.

At first, the Canadian company argued that the U.S. Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, known as the Superfund law, lacked jurisdiction over a foreign company.

But with the trial set to begin next week, the Canadian company switched gears. In its statement Monday, Teck said it would now stipulate that “some portion” of the slag discharged from Trail into the Columbia River between 1896 and 1995, along with “some portion of the effluent” discharged, “are present in the Upper Columbia River,” and that “some hazardous substances” had been released into the U.S.

The 1.4 million-acre Colville reservation hugs one bank of the Columbia River north of the Grand Coulee Dam. For years, tribal members complained pollutants from Teck’s Canadian operation remained in sediment under Lake Roosevelt, the reservoir of Columbia River water that lies behind the dam.

John Sirois, chairman of the Confederated Colville tribes, points to a spot of black sand beach known to locals as “Dead Man’s eddy” where the tribe warns against fishing or swimming. Mr. Sirois said his reservation had spent over $2 million in legal fees, just to get to Teck to court. “Certainly, this is a win,” he said. “But we haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of damages and what cleanup costs could be.”

Monday’s news angered some residents. “Teck was afraid of the outcome of the Yakima trial. They feared if they were held liable it would have opened them up to an onslaught of civil lawsuits,” said Jamie Paparich, who grew up on Mitchell Road and now leads a coalition of former and current Northport citizens fighting for a cleanup of the river.

Write to Joel Millman at joel.millman@wsj.com

A version of this article appeared September 12, 2012, on page A6 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: New Twist in Pollution Case.

*Click the “See Slideshow” at:  http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB10000872396390443696604577645804284821604-lMyQjAxMTAyMDEwMjAxODI3Wj.html?mod=wsj_valettop_email

for great photos of Northport and the community!!

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Excellent opinion article on Teck’s “artful stalling”

OPINION: Canadian smelter refines its legal case with admission [The Seattle Times]

By Lance Dickie, The Seattle Times McClatchy-Tribune Information Services 

Sept. 14–After years of legal quibbling, artful stalling, and averted eyes, Canadian smelter Teck Metals Ltd. acknowledged a century of using the Upper Columbia River and Lake Roosevelt as an industrial sewer.

Teck Cominco, Teck Resources or Teck Metals, regardless of the corporate alias, the company admitted this week it had discharged 10 million tons of slag from its smelting process and hundreds of thousands of tons of heavy metals into the river at Trail, B.C., 10 miles north of the border.

The company admits that slag and effluent discharged between 1896 and 1995 made it to the Columbia from its smelter operations, and some hazardous substances were released into the environment within the United States.

The qualified confession came in the form of a legal stipulation filed Monday, a week before trial was to begin in U.S. District Court in Yakima.

Moving a step ahead, the next phase of the trial, now set to start Oct. 10, will look at liability for damages under U.S. law, what must be done to deal with the pollution and how much the company might have to pay.

Over the years, the state Department of Ecology has had estimates that topped $1 billion to make things right from the border down 150 miles to Lake Roosevelt, the reservoir behind Grand Coulee Dam.

The language in the 15-page legal document is shocking to anyone not used to the boiler plate of calculated admissions:

“Between 1930 and 1995, Teck discharged at least 9.97 million tons of slag into the Columbia River via outfalls at its Trail Smelter. This discharge was intentional.”

Or Teck’s other fetid contribution to the Columbia River. “The discharged effluent contained lead, zinc, cadmium, arsenic, copper, mercury, thallium and other metals, as well as a variety of other chemical compounds … This discharge was intentional.”

The company will concede that this nasty stuff has leached into the environment, but wants to argue whether it has really, really done any harm. O benign mercury.

How accountability translates into pollution cleanup is a work in progress. The company, in a news release announcing an agreement “as to certain facts in Upper Columbia River litigation,” argues the slag downstream is “generally inert.” Not unlike Teck.

The Canadian smelter is still pecking away on a “remedial investigation and feasibility study” that began in 2006 under the supervision of the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency. That review of environmental conditions in and around the river is expected to be finished by 2015, according to the company.

No progress would be evident without the tenacious pursuit of environmental justice by two leaders of The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Indian Reservation, Joseph Pakootas and Donald Michel, who filed a federal lawsuit in 2004. They were joined by the state.

The legal skirmishing is not over. Four years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal that Teck was not subject to the U.S. Superfund law. The smelter apparently intends to recycle that argument because, golly, how was it to know all that icky stuff would end up downstream in the U. S.?

Arrogance and cynicism are two additional effluvial emissions from Teck Resources Ltd. that will no doubt prove costly for the corporate treasury and stockholders as well.

Lance Dickie’s column appears regularly on editorial pages of The Times. His email address is ldickie@seattletimes.com

___

(c)2012 The Seattle Times

Visit The Seattle Times at http://www.seattletimes.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

Teck Resources Agreement in Upper Columbia Litigation

See below my response to Teck’s Press Release sent to me by CBC Radio this morning…..

 

From: Jamie Paparich
Sent: Monday, September 10, 2012 11:32 AM
To: ‘Chris Walker’
Subject: RE: Teck press release…

 

Thanks for the article Chris.  Unfortunately it sounds like more smoke screens from Teck.  They state that “studies in the Upper Columbia River, which to date have generally shown that the water in the river system meets applicable water quality standards in both Canada and the United States, that the beaches are safe for recreational activities, and that the fish in the river system are as safe or safer to eat than fish in other water bodies in Washington State.”

What they aren’t saying is the levels of heavy metal toxins found in the water, and in the air in past studies, are higher than the set safety levels for RESIDENTS.  Teck, along with our own United States Agencies, have hid behind the whole recreational activity safety levels for over a decade.  They can only say, using slanted averages, that anyone exposed to the beaches and sediment/soil are safe 30 days out of the year.  What about the hundreds of residents exposed to not only the toxins found on the beaches and in the river but to the toxins found in their soil, smaller rivers contaminated from the Columbia and their air (along with the particulate matter) for 365 days a year, year after year?

I am worried if the plaintiffs allow Teck to side step this civil proceeding by agreeing with their proposed settlement that they are allowing Teck more time to continue doing a study the EPA has already done twice, and a chance for them to avoid being held liable for damages to human health under the SARA act of CERCLA (aka civil suits from individuals impacted by Teck’s Century of pollution).

I am more than willing to talk further with you.  You can reach me at the same number.

 

Thanks again for the heads up!

Jamie Paparich

 

 

From: Chris Walker [mailto:Chris.Walker@CBC.CA]
Sent: Monday, September 10, 2012 11:11 AM
To: Jamie Paparich
Subject: Teck press release…

 

Teck Resources Announces Agreement as to Certain Facts in Upper Columbia River Litigation

Monday , 10 Sep 2012 Teck Resources

Teck Resources Limited (TSX: TCK.A and TCK.B, NYSE: TCK) (“Teck”) announced today that Teck Metals Ltd. (“TML”) has entered into an agreement regarding certain facts with the plaintiffs in Pakootas et al v. Teck Metals Ltd. in civil proceedings under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (“CERCLA”). The effect of the agreement is to avoid the need for a trial over technical issues in the liability phase of the case. Despite the agreement, important scientific issues, as well as jurisdictional and other legal issues relating to the case remain to be resolved.

The agreement stipulates that some portion of the slag discharged from Teck’s Trail Operations into the Columbia River between 1896 and 1995, and some portion of the effluent discharged from Trail Operations, have been transported to and are present in the Upper Columbia River in the United States, and that some hazardous substances from the slag and effluent have been released into the environment within the United States. These facts are expected to provide the minimum requirements to allow the court to find in favour of the plaintiffs on their claim for a declaratory judgment that TML is liable under CERCLA for response costs, the amount of which will be determined in a subsequent phase of the case. The subsequent hearing, with respect to claims for natural resource damages and costs, is expected to be deferred while the remedial investigation and feasibility study with respect to environmental conditions in the Upper Columbia River are completed. That study, being undertaken by Teck American Incorporated (“TAI”) pursuant to a 2006 agreement with the United States Environmental Protection Agency, is currently expected to be completed in 2015.

TAI continues to work with the Environmental Protection Agency, the State, the Tribes and others on studies in the Upper Columbia River, which to date have generally shown that the water in the river system meets applicable water quality standards in both Canada and the United States, that the beaches are safe for recreational activities, and that the fish in the river system are as safe or safer to eat than fish in other water bodies in Washington State. TAI has commissioned a study by experts in natural resource damage assessment and on the basis of that study it estimates that the compensable value of any damage will not be material.

Teck continues to work cooperatively with regulators to complete its investigation of environmental conditions in the Upper Columbia River. Today, metals in discharges from Trail Operations are much lower than naturally occurring metals loads in the Columbia River. While the slag historically deposited in the river has been shown to release small quantities of metals under certain conditions, it is generally inert.

There can be no assurance that TML will ultimately be successful in its defense of the litigation, or that Teck or its affiliates will not be faced with further liability in relation to this matter. Until the studies described above and additional damage assessments are completed it is not possible to estimate the extent and cost, if any, of any remediation or restoration that may be required, or to fully assess TML’s potential liability for damages. The studies may conclude, on the basis of risk, cost, technical feasibility or other grounds, that no remediation should be undertaken. If remediation is required and damage to resources found, the cost of remediation may be material.

More here:

 

http://www.vancouversun.com/business/Teck+Resources+admits+discharging+hazardous+materials+from+Trail/7217671/story.html

 

 

 

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