Lawsuit filed in Washington state claims Teck toxins caused disease

Lawsuit claims Teck toxins caused disease

By Dene Moore  The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER – A Washington state woman has filed a class-action lawsuit against Teck Resources (TSX:TCK.B), claiming toxic pollutants from the company’s smelter in southeastern British Columbia are to blame for her breast cancer diagnosis and other health ailments.

Barbara Anderson is a longtime resident of Northport, Wash., a small community about 30 kilometres south of Teck’s lead and zinc smelter in Trail.

The lawsuit filed in the Eastern District Court says Anderson was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012 and inflammatory bowel disease in 2010.

“Teck negligently, carelessly and recklessly generated, handled, stored, treated, disposed of and failed to control and contain the metals and other toxic substances at the Trail smelter, resulting in the release of toxic substances and exposure of plaintiff and the proposed class,” says the claim, filed Thursday.

The smelter has been in operation under various ownership since 1896. Last year, the Vancouver-based mining giant admitted in another lawsuit brought by the Colville Confederated Tribes that effluent from the smelter polluted the Columbia River in Washington for more than a century.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency eventually joined that lawsuit and wants Teck to pay the estimated $1-billion cost of cleaning up the contamination.

The latest lawsuit claims that between 1930 and 1995, the smelter discharged into the Columbia River at least 9 million tonnes of slag containing zinc, lead, copper, arsenic cadmium, barium, antimony, chromium, cobalt, manganese, nickel, selenium and titanium.

“This discharge was intentional and made with knowledge that the waste slag contained metals,” says the complaint.

Teck has spent more than a billion dollars on improvements to the Trail operation. Today, the company says, metals from the smelter are lower than levels that occur naturally in the river.

The company has also spent millions remediating the area in and around Trail following decades of industry, but the company said the international border complicates the issues.

Though the discharges were meant to end in 1996, the suit claims there have been numerous unintentional releases since then, most recently in March 2011, when 350,000 litres of caustic effluent went into the river.

A 2012 study by the Washington Department of Ecology found elevated levels of lead, antimony, mercury, zinc, cadmium and arsenic in soil, lakes and wetlands downriver from the plant, the lawsuit claims.

And another study, concluded this summer by the Crohn’s and Colitis Centre at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, found that among 119 current and former residents of Northport, there were 17 cases of ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease — a rate 10 to 15 times higher than expected in a population of that size.

The lawsuit also says the smelter released 123 tonnes of mercury into the air from 1926 to 2005, and discharged at least 180 tonnes into the river in that time.

Complaints south of the border about the contamination from the Trail smelter surfaced as early as the 1940s, when farmers from Washington state sued Cominco, Teck’s predecessor, over air pollution. That case was eventually resolved in arbitration by the two federal governments and set a precedent for cross-border pollution law.

Anderson and potentially others who could form part of a class-action, if approved, “have suffered a personal injury as a result of Teck’s wrongful conduct in violation of federal common law, nuisance, and Washington negligence and strict liability laws,” the claim says.

The suit asks the court for a declaration that the Trail smelter is “a public nuisance and an abnormally dangerous activity.”

“Teck releases and has released hazardous and toxic substances, which create a high risk of significant harm,” it says.

“Teck has known or should have known about the potential health, safety and environmental dangers these substances pose to the public.”

The company has a duty to prevent injury, it says.

The allegations in the lawsuit have not been proven in court. Teck has yet to be served with the lawsuit and file a response with the court.

“It’s possible that this could take a long time,” Barbara Mahoney, Anderson’s lawyer, said Friday

Link to CBC Radio story on Northport Litigation

To here the radio story “People in Northport WA, consider Teck suit” on the CBC radio show Daybreak South click the link below:


Trail, B.C. Smelter Decision May Have Ripple Effect Beyond Teck

TRAIL, B.C. – On a beach in northeast Washington state near the Canadian border, Patti Bailey grabs a handful of what looks like sand and rolls the dark grains through her hands.

It’s slag, the grainy waste from the Teck Resources (TSX:TCK.B) lead and zinc smelter in Trail, B.C., about 10 kilometres north of the nearby Canadian border.

“They’re little time bombs and they’re releasing zinc, copper, arsenic and other metals into the environment,” said Bailey, an environmental planner for the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation.

A Washington state judge has ruled that Teck is liable for the costs of cleaning up contamination in the Columbia River south of the border from decades of dumping slag and effluent from the company’s Trail operations.

In a decision announced late last week, Judge Lonny Suko ruled that, “for decades Teck’s leadership knew its slag and effluent flowed from Trail downstream and are now found in Lake Roosevelt, but nonetheless Teck continued discharging wastes into the Columbia River.”

Suko noted that the company admitted treating the international waterway as a free waste disposal service.

Specifically, the judge in Yakima, Wash., found that from 1930 to 1995, Teck intentionally discharged at least 9.97 million tons of slag that included heavy metals such as lead, mercury, zinc and arsenic.

The judge also found that Teck knew the hazardous waste disposed of in the Columbia River was likely to cause harm.

The decision gives the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency the ability to force Teck to pay for the cleanup, and potentially for any ongoing damages and losses that result from the ongoing contamination. That issue has yet to be determined by the court.

Some believe the landmark case could have implications for mining and other industrial interests on both sides of the border. The Canadian government, the province of British Columbia and the U.S. National Mining Association have all intervened in the case to argue that the issue should be resolved bilaterally.
As they awaited the judge’s decision, Washington state officials were optimistic.

“We’re hopeful after… how many years has it been?” joked Kristie Elliott, lawyer for the Washington state Attorney General. “After this much significant litigation we’re now finally to the substance of the case.”

Eight years after the case was launched and on the eve of a trial this fall, Teck admitted to discharging slag and liquid effluent into the river from 1896 to 1995. But it argued the U.S. law that forces companies to clean up contamination sites, known as the Superfund law, was never intended to reach across the international border.
But Elliot said complaints about the contamination from the Trail smelter surfaced as early as the 1940s, when farmers from Washington state sued Cominco, Teck’s predecessor, over air pollution from the smelter. That case was eventually resolved in arbitration by the two federal governments, and set a precedent for cross-boundary pollution law.

“Still, they continued to discharge, and they knew it was accumulating in Lake Roosevelt and that studies being done by various government agencies were finding mercury contamination down there,” Elliott said. The 209-kilometre long lake was created in 1941 after the Grand Coulee Dam was built on the Columbia River.

The company took out insurance to cover liability, but didn’t stop discharging effluent for decades, she said.

Within the fences of the largest smelting operation in North America, about a billion and a half dollars has been spent modernizing Teck’s Trail Operations over the past 25 years. A new furnace installed in 1996 cut emissions dramatically.

Last month, Teck completed a $5.8-million project to reduce the risk of a spill into the river.

The company is now installing a $1.2-million automated leak detection system, and a $125-million acid plant that will reduce sulphur dioxide emissions a further 15 to 20 per cent.
Recycled lead makes up about 20 per cent of total production and anything that can be used or recycled is, right down to granules of slag sold for processing into Portland cement.

“The employees who work here at Trail Operations live in this local area, and participate and take part in everything it has to offer,” said Richard Deane, manager of environment, health and safety at the smelter.

“It’s a great area from an outdoor quality of life perspective. Everyone here enjoys the benefits of the river — swimming, kayaking, fishing, all these types of things.”

The company has also spent tens of millions of dollars on environmental rehabilitation, from digging up contaminated gardens and bringing in replacement soil, to replanting dead trees.

Lead emissions have decreased from about 100 tonnes a year in the early 1990s to about half a tonne last year.
Teck is now taking aim at “fugitive dust” emissions, covering raw materials stored outdoors, and is building an indoor facility for all mixing processes that stir up dust.

That has not been the case south of the border, say the Colville tribes.

Years of discussions went nowhere, so they petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1999 to assess the river contamination under the U.S. Superfund law. The agency found the river was indeed contaminated, and it found Teck was responsible. That’s when the legal battle began.

Frustrated by the lack of action, two band members launched civil action eight years ago. The legal wrangling has gone all the way to that country’s highest court — the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Teck’s appeal.
The smoke-billowing smelter on the banks of the Columbia River towers over Trail like a fortified castle of old. The town has literally grown around this industrial giant, which first fired up its stacks in 1896.

“Teck is Trail and Trail is Teck,” said Mayor Dieter Bogs, a former Teck engineer-turned-politician. “I don’t know what Trail would be like without Teck, because the city and the company are really one and the same.”
Bogs admitted there are concerns about a recent study that found elevated levels of bowel disease in the Washington state community of Northport, just across the border.
In Trail, it was blood lead levels in children that sparked alarm in the 1970s. That has greatly improved, Bogs said. In children under three, levels are considered safe but remain persistently higher than the community’s health committee would like.

The Trail Health and Environment Committee released results last month of the most recent annual testing, which found an average level of 5.4 micrograms of lead per decilitre — higher than last year’s average of 5 micrograms. Eighty-four per cent of children tested below 10 micrograms, the level Health Canada considers a concern.

The committee is working on a plan to minimize exposure.

“If people work with us, as far as I’m concerned this is a very safe place to live,” said Bogs, committee chairman.
He said the U.S. court case is a concern because anything that affects the company affects the town. The price tag for the cleanup alone in Washington state has been estimated at $1 billion.

Vancouver-based Teck Resources Ltd. ended fiscal 2011 with a $4.4 billion profit.

Teck American Inc., the company’s U.S. branch, entered into an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2006 to undertake a remedial investigation and feasibility study of the Upper Columbia.

It has spent $55 million so far, and the company says it has found encouraging results in water and fish testing. The Colville tribes disagree.

Huge Admission from Canadian Cross-Border Polluter, Teck Resources

Huge Admission from Canadian Cross-Border Polluter, Teck Resources

By rosehips | Posted September 11, 2012 | Northport, Washington

I have personally been waiting decades for this. In an historic admission on the eve of a court case pitting two members of the Colville Confederated Tribes, the state of Washington and the EPA against a Canadian company with a long history of pollution into the Columbia River, the polluting company has admitted that their toxic discharges have crossed the border into Washington State.

Teck Resources (fka Teck Cominco) is located just north of the Canadian border and is one of the biggest lead/zinc smelters in the world. They have been operating the smelter for over 100 years. A byproduct of the smelting process is black slag, which Teck discharged directly into the river for decades until locals across the border in the Northport, WA area began protesting back in the early 1990’s. This pressure helped prompt the Canadian government to force regulations upon the company. They built a brand new smelter. When the smelter design was discovered to be flawed, they built another one. They stopped dumping slag. We won that victory, but the fight didn’t end there.

For decades Teck maintained that the black slag discharged into the Columbia, that by some estimates totals over 50 million tons, was inert. But then in the 1990’s it was proven that the slag is not inert. The toxins within the vitrified sand are bio-available over time. And time has had it’s way with the slag.

In 1999, members of the Colville Confederated Tribes (CCT) came to local activists in the Northport area and asked for help in making Teck accountable for their pollution. Through years of tough legal work, years of study have been conducted by Teck, after an agreement with tribal members, the EPA and the state of Washington was reached. As local citizens directly impacted by the discharges, members of Citizens for a Clean Columbia (CCC) have worked hand in hand with the CCT, the EPA and various state agencies to see this day come. Teck has now admitted some of their toxic discharges that they released wound up in Washington. This sets the stage for them to be held accountable for the damages.

The locals in the Northport area, where I lived for 18 years, have been screaming for an epidemiological study for decades to prove what we already know: that there is a cluster of intestinal bowel diseases (IBD) in the area. We have asked the state to answer the question: Why do so many Northport residents have colitis and Chrohn’s disease? Well, after more than one flawed study, we finally got the study we were looking for. A team out of Massachusetts came out and surveyed residents. They analyzed the data and they confirmed that there is indeed a cluster of IBD’s with rates 15 times greater than in the general public.

So now what? I guess we will see what the courts determine. Attorneys have already been flocking, waiting to represent local citizens who have been impacted by Teck Resources. It is going to be an interesting phase of our fight for justice for the people who live along the upper Columbia River.

Stay tuned for updates.

Read more from the Globe and Mail:

Photos of “Black Sand Beach” by me. (Sorry they got pixelated!) The beach was remediated a few years ago by Teck at a considerable expense. They replaced the black slag that give the beach its name with clean sand. It was a major job but was necessary to protect to local folk who swim and fish there.

Thanks for reading!

Northport, the Town That Could Help Cure IBD

Northport, the Town That Could Help Cure IBD

Published September 18, 2012
Written by Jaime Weinstein

Small towns are often known for having a story or legend to call their own. This story in particular involves the quiet little town of Northport, Wash., a long-standing pollution battle with a Canadian mining company, and a potential cluster of Inflammatory Bowel Disease diagnoses. For the 295 residents who live in and around Northport, this story is one they definitely could do without.

The Cast

Canadian mining company Teck Resources Ltd. (formerly Teck Cominco) one of the biggest lead and Zinc smelters in the world has a history of pollution dating back close to a century.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease, which includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis; cause of disease is currently unknown, but researchers believe that genetic and environmental factors are associated

A courageous former Northport resident, Jamie Paparich, who brings information of 50 current and past residents with IBD to the attention of Harvard researchers in 2011.

117 current and former Northport residents who participate in a health study designed by Dr. Joshua Korzenik, a Harvard researcher and director of Crohn’s and Colitis Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

The 17 people in Dr. Korzenik’s initial study who came back with confirmed cases of either type of IBD

The Plot

In the early 1900s, the company now known as Teck Resources Ltd. started out as a gold mine operation along the Columbia River in Trail B.C., Canada. As the years moved on the mining operation grew to include Zinc, copper, coal and oil.

Starting in the 1930s, farmers from the towns of Northport and Marcus file suit against Teck Cominco (the company’s name at the time) on the grounds that the smelter’s air pollution is destroying crops, especially along farms located on Mitchel Road. This became a landmark case in terms of farmers and pollution.

By 1940, the mining company admits to dumping up to 1,000 tons of slag (mining waste consisting of harmful chemicals like arsenic, cadmium and lead). By the 1980s mercury spills and regular dumping are added to the list of pollutants the company’s smelter is responsible for.

A smelter is a machine that uses extreme heat and pressure to melt or fuse ore in order to separate metallic compounds. The extraction process creates extreme amounts of waste and much of this waste was pumped into the Columbia River up until the mid-1990s.

The Plot Thickens

By the early 1990s the U.S. became aware of Canada fining Teck due to inappropriate dumping procedures involving sulfuric acid, Zinc and cadmium, as well as spills of sulfuric acid, but the U.S. refrains from lobbying fines of their own. Once there was knowledge of a spill, U.S. government agencies were supposed to notify local residents right away. However, this did not occur in relation to the Teck smelter.

Several studies conducted through the 80s and 90s showed elevated levels of mercury in fish such as trout. The most dangerous levels found in fish that many residents liked to catch and consume were usually found around the time a spill had recently occurred. Upon the conclusion of later testing, mercury levels had gone down to a reasonable level in the fish. However, it was found that bottom-dwelling fish were still showing higher than reasonable amounts of mercury in their system. Residents were not notified.

When a corporate memo was issued internally by a Teck environmental manager, Richard Dalosse, it didn’t seem very positive. The memo sent to Dalosse’s supervisors included a startling quote, “If we fail to ensure accurate monitoring of this discharge, it is possible that we could be held civilly or criminally liable.” By then Canadian regulators were already urging Teck to conduct a study regarding the Columbia River and pollution.

In 1994, Teck’s Columbia River Integrated Environmental Monitoring Program concluded its river pollution study. Findings showed a substantial amount of toxins were found south of Teck’s smelter inside of the river’s sediment. The study ended at the Canadian/U.S. border, but located just south of the border are the towns of Northport, Waneta and Washington.

It’s important to note that dumping in the river, within limits, is legal on both the American and Canadian sides of the river. However it’s become increasingly clear that Teck has had quality control issues with over dumping and spills; the last took place in 2010.

One outstanding issue residents of surrounding towns have with this information is that legally they should have been notified and never were. Much of this information has been collected thanks to the curiosity and diligence of a frustrated former resident, Jamie Paparich, whose own family members and friends suffer from various forms of IBD.

Putting the Pieces of the Story Together

On August 15 the Vancouver Sun ran an interview with Jamie Paparich and her aunt, Rose Kalamarides. Paparich a former Northport resident formed the Northport Project, which now consists of an extensive series of documents including a timeline laying out varying amounts of pollution dumped, spills, and the dates they took place.

As part of the Northport Project, Paparich performed an informal survey she hoped would catch the eye of the medical community. Results came back showing what Paparich had suspected all along, a potential IBD cluster, as well as something else. Additional smaller clusters involving certain types of cancer, as well as thyroid disease and Multiple Sclerosis; both are also inflammatory disease brought on by the immune system.

Speaking about the location of the family farm she grew up on, “It’s where the river starts to slow down and creates pools and swimming holes.” Both Paparich’s father and aunt grew up on the farm, as well. “All these kids swam in it, we irrigated with it, for decades, she added.” In the 1980s the state of Washington placed air monitors on the property to track air pollution. Results showed elevated levels of arsenic and cadmium.

Why did they do it?

One possibility could be, because the family farm is located along Mitchel Road. The very same road from the landmark farming lawsuit that took place many decades ago.

Rose Kalamarides, along with another sister, related a story to reporters about how during summertime their mother’s grocery bill was never higher than $5.00. Everything they ate came from the farm. Looking back now, they acknowledge you can’t see pollution in the head of lettuce you’re eating. And when referring to the aroma that wafted 15 miles south into Northport, Kalamarides told the Spokesman-Review, “When we were kids walking to school, we could smell it in the air.”

Now at the age of 56, Kalamarides has been dealing with ulcerative colitis for close to 30 years. Along with struggling to keep weight on and having to endure numerous blood transfusions, Kalamarides has had quite the battle with ulcerative colitis from having to have her colon removed to needing an ostomy, and now requires a catheter. As for her brother Jim (Paparich’s father), he has the disease too but is faring better.

Included in the group of people who have IBD that Kalamarides personally knows are a good friend, her third grade teacher and a childhood classmate.

Growing concerned with the amount of people she knew living with IBD, Paparich took the information she gathered from her Northport Project’s informal survey and set out to get the attention of the medical community. And that’s exactly what happened. Introducing Dr. Joshua Korzenik, director of the Crohn’s and Colitis Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and the man who Paparich got to pay attention to her findings.

“10 to 15 Times More IBD Than Expected to Be Seen…”
After Paparich got the attention of Dr. Korzenik, he put together a small health study, which he hopes to expand and get funding for eventually. For now, it will be a labor of love for him and his team. The study contained 119 current and former Northport residents. The results, 17 came back with having either ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.

What this means in terms of the bigger picture is that it’s a very high number – about 10 to 15 times higher than expected to be seen in a small population like Northport, said Dr. Korzenik. As for one of Dr. Korzenik’s fellow researchers, Dr. Sharyle Fowler, she said, “We should be expecting to see one or two cases for a town the size of Northport.”

There are also others in Northport with digestive tract issues, who have not officially received an IBD diagnosis at this time, like two of Clifford Ward’s children.

The End …

Through his preliminary research, Dr. Korzenik has already ruled out a genetic influence being linked to the potential Northport cluster. Yes, he believes it is a cluster. The genetic theory was discounted when results showed only a few individuals were related; like Jamie Paparich’s aunt and father.

Another thing the Harvard research team found interesting is that of the 17 people from the study confirmed to have IBD, seven of them live(d) along Mitchell Road. Yes, the very same road where Paparich’s family farm is located and area of farmland related to the landmark lawsuit.

While there is no cure for Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis yet, much speculation circulates around environmental triggers since increases in diagnoses started after the industrial revolution took place. It is with this reasoning that if the IBD cluster can be confirmed, Dr. Korzenik believes Northport could hold the key to finally getting much needed answers.

What a great ending this could make — Northport, the town that helped cure Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

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


(c)2012 The Seattle Times

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Distributed by MCT Information Services

‘Northport Project’ seeks funds for toxin testing – Statesman Examiner Article (Feb 27, 2012)

‘Northport Project’ seeks funds for toxin testing’

February 27, 2012


In her ongoing efforts to create awareness and education about the affects of commercial pollutants in her hometown, Jamie Paparich is working to raise funds so people living in Northport can be tested for toxins.
Paparich’s “Northport Project” is currently working to raise $3,200 so 30 past and present residents of Northport can send in samples of their hair to be tested for toxins like arsenic, cadmium and mercury. Paparich said the hair tests, which cost roughly $108 each and can be sent in via regular mail, are more accurate than other testing.

“I believe, with absolute certainty, the results of these hair element tests will be the final piece of information to secure funding and aid from interested hospitals and university research programs,” she said.

Necessary data

Paparich has been continually working to establish the data needed to show how the commercial waste from the nearby Teck Resources smelter in British Columbia has affected residents in the area, including her own family.

“I have many members of my family who are suffering from ailments like leukemia, Parkinson’s, ulcerative colitis, breast and uterine cancers due to their exposure to the plant’s particulate pollutants when they were children,” she said, referring to the family farm located on Mitchell Road near Northport.

“Although they did not become ill until adulthood, it seems that the high level of exposure they had as children is linked to their sickness.”

Teck Resources Ltd. is a lead and zinc smelter that produces products for export, much of it to the United States. The zinc is used in pharmaceuticals, zinc batteries, hearing aids, as a rust preventative and in renewable energy products. Lead is also exported for the manufacture of lead acid batteries. The plant has been operating for nearly a century, but past production discharged industrial waste into the Columbia River up until the 1990s.

Black Sand Beach

These discharges, along with particulate matter from the smelter, are blamed for the recurring health problems of some residents downstream in Northport. One of the areas catching much of the slag discharge was an area referred to as “Black Sand Beach.”

The beach near Northport that was a popular swimming hole for the community was cleaned up by Teck Resources in 2010. The company spent $1 million to remove the discharge material from the area that was reprocessed at the Trail plant into ferrous granules that are used in making cement.

A 2010 study on the occurrence of ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s in Northport is currently underway to determine what factors could be causing the illnesses in the area.

For Paparich, the cause seems to be obvious.

“We all received the bad genetics they (Teck Resources) caused in our parents,” she said. “Why else would 98 percent of all the respondents from adults my age, who had at least one parent that was born and raised there, yet never lived there themselves, all have early onset arthritis and thyroid diseases?“

Once the hair test samples have been sent in and documented, Paparich is hoping that a community health program can be established related to toxin exposure.

Saving lives

“If we can offer services like overall health services and psychiatric services, we could save the lives of people who may not even realize they are suffering from mental or psychological symptoms caused by the impacts of the accumulation of metal toxins in their body,” Paparich said.

Current fundraising efforts for the Northport Project are being conducted via the project blog. To donate visit the blog at:, (click on the Community Protection & Awareness Program tab /page for the link to donate), and via word of mouth.

Bockemuehl Jewelers in Spokane has offered to contribute 10% off all sales if customers mention seeing the offer on the project blog or on the Northport Buy,Sell Trade Facebook page. Traveling Lilies has also offered to donate 20 percent off all sales of their Northport photos and photo gifts to the fundraiser.

So far Paparich has raised $290 from individual, anonymous donations, as well as money from past residents.

To learn more about The Northport Project, or email:

DONATIONS: To donate click copy and paste this link:

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