Posts Tagged ‘TECK SMELTER’

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.

Teck appeals $8.25 million U.S. court ruling – of course.

On Feb. 16th, 2018 Trail Times reported Teck Resources is appealing the 2016 $8.25 million U.S. court ruling by District Court Judge Lonny Suko.  This ruling found in favor of The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation (CCT).  Of the $82.5 million awarded, $4.9 million is allocated to the CCT’s decades of litigation costs and $3.4 million is allocated for the expenses related to their investigative studies of the water.

Teck believes they should not be responsible for paying the $8.25 million the CCT had no choice but to spend to eventually force Teck into taking responsibility for the damages their century of gross negligence caused.  Teck claims that since beginning their remedial investigation study of our area in 2006 (ish) they have spent $85 million also stating; “To date, these studies are showing in general that the water in the Columbia River is clean, fish are as safe to eat as fish from other water bodies in Washington State, and beaches are safe for recreational activities.”

I am going to try to remain calm here.  No need to lose my shit over this.  I will simply dispute Teck’s quote above with ACTUAL FACTS, being the ACTUAL results of their studies.  Keep in mind I am only addressing SOME of their studies conducted, but rest assured all the results of the other studies were very similar to those listed below.

To date, Teck’s studies (partial list below) have concluded the following;

  • 2005 Sediment Toxicity Tests –  Concluded; “Contaminants in the UCR….surface sediment (are) at concentrations that pose unacceptable risk to benthic/epibenthic resources” and “…elevated concentrations of metals in most of the UCR sediment samples”
  • 1993 – 2009 Air Monitoring of Northport – Concluded; “…particulate matter less than 10-μm in size (PM10) concentrations of arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), and lead (Pb) significantly exceeded health impact screening concentrations”.
  • 2008 & 2009 White Sturgeon Acute Water Toxicity Study – Concluded; Acute exposures of cadmium, copper and zinc to ELS of white sturgeon resulted in acute toxicity due to levels of these heavy metals being “….substantially greater than the acute water quality criteria for these metals in the state of Washington.”
  • 2012 Human Health Evaluation of Contaminants in UCR Fish – Concluded; …heavy metal toxins of concern are higher to those seen in other fished waterbodies across the northeast region.
  • 2015 Northport Residential Soil Study Summary – Concluded; …dangerous levels of specific heavy metal toxins (lead, arsenic and/or cadmium) found on properties of 15 Northport residents prompted Teck to complete expedited clean-ups of these properties.
  • 2016 Additional Northport/UCR Residential Soil Study Summary – Concluded;  …dangerous levels of specific heavy metal toxins (arsenic, lead and/or cadmium) found on properties of 13 Northport/UCR residents prompted Teck to complete expedited clean-up of these properties.

Also worth mentioning;

  • 2017 Department of Ecology’s Preliminary Review and Evaluation of Available Air Quality Monitoring Data and Consideration of Potential Present-Day Health Risks: Upper Columbia River Valley, near Northport, Washington  – Concluded; Teck’s air monitors assessing potential air quality conditions near Northport between 2009 and 2014 indicates recent average PM10 As and Cd concentrations that exceed State of Washington ASILs (Safety Standards), Just as they did in Ecology’s 1992 – 1996 four air monitoring studies.  

I am going to try to not to even get into depth about the fact that time after time, community meeting after community meeting, press release after press release Teck has claimed to accept responsibility for the damages their century of pollution has caused and would be paying for all the studies, testing and clean ups deemed necessary.  Yet, they continue to appeal every court finding they do not win.

If you want to truly be amazed read this 2017 article on how they managed to avoid responsibility for the well documented damages caused by the heavy metal toxic air particulates, found way above safety standards, their smoke stacks have released into Northport and the Upper Columbia River valley since the early 1920’s.

To read all of the studies Teck has completed of the Upper Columbia River site please go to:  https://www.ucr-rifs.com/home/documents-plans/.

 

“For the better part of 20 years now, Teck has continued to fight liability and associated obligations at all levels for the century’s worth of industrial wastes Trail historically discharged directly to the Columbia River or from smoke stacks at the smelter complex. The litigation and multiple appeals continue in federal court.”    

– Washington State Department of Ecology

We all have a voice – together they become a roar

Citizens for a Clean Columbia (CCC) Newsletter – January 2017

Our mission: to advocate for a clean Columbia River ecosystem.              

                    

Who are we? 

Citizens for a Clean Columbia (CCC) is a volunteer organization focused on advocating for the health of the Upper Columbia River (UCR) and Lake Roosevelt. 

Visit us at http://www.cleancolumbia.org


 NEWS IN BRIEF:


Residential Soil Study 2016: Northport, WA

•  144 residential properties were sampled between August and October 2016.

•  Data are undergoing validation; results are expected by Spring, 2017.

Macroinvertebrate Study

•  The study will determine the concentrations of chemicals in the tissues of mussels, clams and crayfish in the Upper Columbia River (UCR)

•  The information will be used in exposure assessments for people and wildlife that consume these organisms

White Sturgeon Sampling

•  White sturgeon fillets are being evaluated for contaminants.

Northport 2016 Brigham and Women’s Hospital /Harvard Crohn’s & Colitis Study Underway

•  This case control study will attempt to understand potential exposures responsible for a health cluster of ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease in Northport.

Lake Roosevelt Forum (LRF)

•  256 people attended this falls LRF conference.

Technical Advisor Update

•  Joe focused on the 2016 residential soil study, the macroinvertebrate study, the 2013 sediment toxicity data summary report, the level of effort (LOE) memorandum for sediment treatability in the Columbia River, the upland soil split sample results memorandum, and the quality assurance project plan and field sampling report for the 2016 sturgeon fillet study.
 


DETAILED NEWS:


Residential Soil Study in 2016
An expansion of the Residential Soil Study conducted in 2014 by the EPA was performed in 2016. The study was based on findings of aerial contamination above national screening levels for lead and arsenic. The 2014 study findings are described in our July 2015 newsletter. Additional information can be found in the EPA fact sheets on CCC’s website or on the epa.gov website searching under “region10 Upper Columbia River remedial investigation”.

The 2016 study was led by Teck America, Inc. (TAI) and extended the southern boundary of EPA’s 2014 Residential Soil Study to approximately the intersection of Williams Lake Road and Highway 25. There are 144 residential properties for which property owners volunteered to have their property tested that were sampled. Additional information on the study methods can be found in our July 2016 newsletter.

Two kinds of soil samples were collected at the properties:

  • “Incremental composite samples” for which soil was collected at 30 places within each decision unit, and then combining the soil into one sample.
  • Ten “discrete” samples collected from a single decision at 0 to 1 and 1 to 6 inches deep from five locations each with results reported for soil at each location.

Surface soils collected from these properties were tested for metals including aluminum, antimony, arsenic, barium, beryllium, cadmium, calcium, chromium, cobalt, copper, iron, lead, magnesium, manganese, nickel, potassium, selenium, silver, sodium, thallium, vanadium, and zinc. This study is intended to produce data representative of potential exposure associated with metal-enriched soil particles and to support risk management decision making for the human health risk assessment.

Data are undergoing validation and a final version of the results should be out by spring, 2017. CCC provided comments on the draft results letter that will be sent to participating land owners.

     – Mindy Smith, CCC secretary


Sampling for the Macroinvertebrate Tissue Study Underway

Details about this study are also provided in the July 2016 newsletter. In brief, the primary objective of the macroinvertebrate study is to determine the concentrations of chemicals present in the tissues of mussels and crayfish. Two rounds of sampling were completed, in spring and fall; in the fall, some of the mussels were collected by diving in the study areas and by wading in the reference area.

The EPA has made recommendations to Teck on compositing the specimens for analysis. CCC provided comments to EPA on both the original sampling plan and the compositing plan. Additional information about these reviews are provided in our technical advisor’s report. At present, the way the individual organisms are being composited for analysis is still under discussion.

      –  Mindy Smith, CCC secretary


White Sturgeon Sampling

With the success of the Lake Roosevelt Fishery, co-managers are considering allowing a recreational and tribal subsistence fishery catch for hatchery white sturgeon. However, safety of eating white sturgeon in Lake Roosevelt is unknown. This prompted the addition of a study of white sturgeon.

In summer of 2016, 72 hatchery white sturgeon of different sizes and from various locations were sampled. Fillets were taken from the fish and combined into composite samples for analysis. Results are pending.

     – Mindy Smith, CCC secretary


Northport 2016 Brigham and Women’s Hospital /Harvard Crohn’s & Colitis Study Underway

Dr. Josh Korzenik, The Director of the Crohn’s and Colitis Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and a leading IBD researcher, and his team have begun their second study of the health cluster of ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease diagnosed in Northport residents. Their 2011 study concluded diagnosed cases of ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease in the community was 10 to 15 times higher than national standards. This was one of the largest health clusters of these illnesses Dr. Korzenik has ever seen.

The current study is a more in-depth epidemiological case-control study. The focus is in finding a possible correlation of chronic exposure to specific heavy metals and ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

The case-control study includes participants who have been diagnosed with either Crohn’s or colitis as well as participants who have not been affected. In March, I asked for volunteers for this new study. The response was overwhelming. I provided the list to Dr. Korzenick; however, if you volunteered but have not heard from them, please call or email at: IBDresearch@bwh.harvard.edu or 617-732-9173.

It is not too late to volunteer if you haven’t. They are still recruiting participants.
The scope of this study, and the study itself, has the likely possibility of providing groundbreaking information the scientific community is greatly lacking.

Thank you to the many past and present Northport residents who have volunteered to participate in this study.

We cannot change the past or the damage Teck’s pollution has caused to countless Northport residents. However, by participating in studies like this, valuable information on the routes and duration of exposure to specific environmental toxins and their potential link to triggering or causing rare diseases will be better understood. This could help accomplish prevention, regulatory changes, and better treatment options for Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and possibly many other autoimmune diseases.

      –  Jamie Paparich


Lake Roosevelt Forum (LRF)

Once again, CCC members attended the wonderful LRF conference held at the Davenport Hotel in Spokane on November 15-16, 2016. Over 250 individuals attended, including a mix of members from area tribes, natural resource managers, agency personnel from throughout the Northwest, elected officials, conservationists, teachers and students, and the public. Sessions were presented on fisheries, water quality, recreation, climate change and lake operations. 

Information about the presentations can be viewed at http://www.lrf.org/conference-presentations/2016/#p=1

I found particularly interesting the outlined five-year process for preparing an environmental impact statement to operate 14 multi-purpose federal dams in the Columbia River Basin. Also, the discussion of projections and plans to address future power, irrigation, flood control, fisheries, recreation and other demands was quite interesting, especially in consideration of expected flow increases in winter and decreases in summer due, in part, to changes in snowpack melts.

Favorites were the wonderful presentations from high school students – Colville students who presented a touching tribute to Jono Esvelt and the Reardan High School students lively debate on introducing salmon into the upper Columbia watershed. 

I also loved learning about the salmon cannon for shooting salmon over dams.

     – Mindy Smith, CCC secretary
 


Technical Advisor Report

My efforts over the past six months focused on the 2016 residential soil study, the macroinvertebrate study, the 2013 sediment toxicity data summary report, the level of effort (LOE) memorandum for sediment transport in the Columbia River, the upland soil split sample results memorandum, and the quality assurance project plan and field sampling report for the 2016 sturgeon fillet study. I reviewed several LOE memorandum drafts for potential 2017 studies. CCC used my reviews as the basis for their comments to EPA. I also attended the Lake Roosevelt Forum Conference in Spokane in November 2016.

I reviewed the final residential soil study quality assurance project plan (QAPP) and the split sample QAPP. No major issues were found for either document. Both documents required updating completed tasks and timelines. I observed two days of residential soil study sampling. Early sampling efficiency was hindered by each crew having only a single sampler. This problem was quickly remedied with the arrival of additional samplers. The teams I observed were well organized and professional. The minor issues I observed during field reconnaissance were all resolved prior to sampling. A total of 144 properties were sampled. Analytical results should be available for distribution to property owners in early spring. Once final results are available, it will be determined if there is a need for any time-critical removal actions.

I reviewed two versions of macroinvertebrate study sample compositing plans for the organisms collected in April 2016. A major concern was the proposed compositing of large organisms with small organisms. If metal levels differ between large and small organisms, the difference would be lost. Levels in small organisms would be swamped by levels in the large organisms. A second major concern was the proposed incorporation of organisms obtained in the Columbia River-influenced area of the Sanpoil River arm with organisms collected in the uninfluenced area of the river for the reference area composite samples. I also supported analysis of the clams collected in Area 6 in April 2016. Compositing plans were then placed on hold pending completion of a second round of sampling in the fall. The fall sampling plan required two drafts to establish the required effort for the project. Additional mussels were collected by diving in the study areas and by wading in the reference area. Additional crayfish were collected using traps. One crayfish was again collected in the Columbia River influenced area of the Sanpoil River arm. CCC requested that this organism not be composited with reference organisms. The compositing plans then underwent four rounds of modification to reach a plan acceptable to the participating parties and CCC in December. The compositing plan separated mussels and crayfish into two weight classes for each collection area. Teck American, Incorporated (TAI) is currently not in agreement with the compositing plan proposed by EPA in December 2016. Sample compositing and analysis awaits the development of a compositing plan agreeable to all parties.

EPA provided TAI with compiled comments on the 2013 sediment toxicity study data summary report. Most of CCC’s comments were included in the compilation. CCC was surprised to learn that only analytical chemistry analyses undergo formal data validation. The toxicity data generated at Pacific EcoRisk and the slag determination by computer controlled scanning electron microscopy in the backscattered electron imaging mode (BSEM) data generated by the RJ Lee Group did not and will not undergo formal data validation. CCC’s concerns with BSEM slag determination, particularly the failure to detect a type of slag, and the lack of data on how slag composition varied over the course of 100 plus years of discharge into the Columbia River carry forward into several studies under discussion for 2017.  

I reviewed two versions of the sediment treatability study LOE memorandum. CCC had no major concerns with the LOE memorandum, it was very similar to the soil treatability LOE memorandum. EPA sent a letter to TAI on December 14, 2016, indicating the need for a sediment treatability study. A summary of toxicity data from the 2013 sediment toxicity study and the toxicity data from a separate study performed by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) were attached to the letter. The USGS study was not a formal RI/FS study and did not undergo review by the participating parties, TAI, or CCC. TAI responded with a letter to EPA on December 22, 2016, and elaborated several concerns with EPA’s letter. A meeting to discuss a path forward was proposed for the end of January 2017.

I reviewed the draft upland soil split sample data summary memorandum. Major concerns included differences among text, table and spreadsheet presentations of data, and the missing quality assurance memorandum for the analyses. A second draft of the memorandum that includes the quality assurance memorandum is under review.
I also reviewed the QAPP, field sampling plan and compositing proposal for the 2016 sturgeon fillet study. Hatchery sturgeon are doing so well in the upper Columbia River that the Lake Roosevelt Fisheries Co-Managers (LRFCM) harvested hundreds of hatchery sturgeon in late summer to minimize the impact these fish may have on the genetic pool of wild sturgeon. LRFCM may open a sport and subsistence sturgeon fishery in the near future. The sturgeon fillet study was developed to evaluate the levels of potential chemicals of concern in sturgeon fillets and inform Washington State Department of Health for a sturgeon fish advisory if needed. This study was developed very quickly, but all concerns with the study were addressed prior to sample collection, compositing and analysis.

     –  Joe Wichmann, PhD; CCC Technical    Advisor


Want to be More Involved?

•  CCC welcomes new members; you can join on our website (http://www.cleancolumbia.org). You can also find meeting minutes and links to other organizations involved in protecting the environment.

•  Our next General Member Meeting will be in the fall. We will post updated information on the website. Please join us.

You can also write to our EPA project managers:

•  Laura Buelow (buelow.laura@epa.gov)  

•  Kathryn Cerise (Cerise.Kathryn@epa.gov)

Or the EPA region 10 administrator;

•  Dennis McLerran (McLerran.Dennis@epa.gov)

 

Northport Crohn’s & Colitis Study Underway

Northport 2016 BWH/Harvard

Crohn’s & Colitis Study Underway

~ Still Recruiting Participants ~

 

Dr. Josh Korzenik, The Director of the Crohn’s and Colitis Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), one of the leading IBD researchers in the country, and his team have begun their second study of the health cluster of ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease diagnosed in Northport residents.  Their 2011 study concluded diagnosed cases of ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease in the community was 10 to 15 times higher than national standards. This was one of the largest health clusters of these illnesses Dr. Korzenik  has ever seen.

The current study is a more in-depth epidemiological case-control study.  The focus is in finding a possible correlation of chronic exposure to specific heavy metals and ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

The case-control study includes participants who have been diagnosed with either Crohn’s or colitis as well as participants who have not been affected.  In March I asked for volunteers for this new study. The response I received was overwhelming. I provided the full list to Dr. Korzenick, however if you volunteered and have still not heard from them please call or e-mail them at:  IBDresearch@bwh.harvard.edu  or  617-732-9173.

It is not too late to volunteer if you haven’t.  They are still recruiting participants.

The scope of this study, and the study itself, has the very likely possibility of providing groundbreaking information the scientific community is greatly lacking.

Thank you to the many past and present Northport residents who have volunteered to participate in this study.

We cannot change the past or the damage Teck’s pollution has caused, and continues to cause, to countless Northport residents. However, by participating in studies like this invaluable information on the routes and duration of exposure to specific environmental toxins have in triggering or causing these rare diseases.  This could help accomplish prevention, regulatory changes, and better treatment options and cures for Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and possibly many other autoimmune diseases.

–  Jamie Paparich

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.

State, tribes to challenge ruling on cross-border emissions

Originally published August 12, 2016 at 6:07 pm

 
By The Associated Press

 

SPOKANE — Washington state and the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation say they intend to challenge a federal appeals court ruling that said a Canadian company can’t be held liable for toxic air pollution that drifted into the state.

The July 27 decision from a panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals partially dismissed Superfund claims against Teck Resources, which owns a smelter in Trail, British Columbia. For more than a century, pollution from the smelter’s smokestacks funneled down the Columbia River valley and settled over Northport, Washington.

Testing has found high levels of lead and arsenic downwind of the smelter, and a federal judge in Spokane found the company liable.

But the appeals court said that emitting pollutants into the air did not meet the definition of actions for which the company could be held responsible. The state and tribes say they will seek a rehearing in the 9th Circuit, The Spokesman-Review reported.

“We believe that our case is strong and that there is no difference in how the pollution … is impacting the environment, whether it originated from air or water,” said Brook Beeler, a spokeswoman for the Washington Department of Ecology.

The ruling didn’t address claims related to pollution that was dumped directly into the river. The smelter dumped hundreds of tons of slag daily into the river until 1995, when the B.C. government halted the practice after determining the smelter byproduct was toxic to aquatic life. The slag forms the “black sand beaches” of the Upper Columbia.

In an email, Teck spokesman Chad Pederson said the company reached an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to pay the cleanup costs for 14 residential properties last year, and for ongoing soil testing. Teck’s attorneys are reviewing the recent ruling, he said.

The tribal reservation’s boundaries originally extended to the Canadian border, encompassing the area that’s now Northport, said Michael Marchand, the tribe’s chairman.

“Most people don’t know the land history, or that tribal members retain the legal right to hunt and fish in that former territory,” Marchand said. “Lots of toxic material was released into that area.”

Many of the tribe’s members depend on wild game and fish for a subsistence diet, potentially exposing them to heavy metals and other pollution. For them, hunting and fishing “is not a sport, and it’s not a luxury food,” Marchand said.

In 2004, two members of the Colville Tribes sued Teck in U.S. District Court under the Superfund law. The state of Washington later joined the lawsuit.

The Associated Press

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