Posts Tagged ‘Teck’

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

BWH/Harvard Northport IBD Study to begin next month

2016 BWH/Harvard Crohn’s & Ulcerative Colitis study to begin in November

In 2011  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 conducted a study of Northport residents through health questionnaires and medical record confirmations. He discovered a health cluster of Northport residents with either ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease that was 10 to 15 times higher than national standards. This was one of the largest health clusters of these illnesses he has ever seen.

The causes, and a cure, for ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease have long baffled the scientific community.  Northport’s historical exposure to specific heavy metal toxins may be a contributing factor to the abnormally high number of residents with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

Dr. Korzenik is moving forward next month with a new epidemiological case-control study of Northport residents; focusing on a possible correlation to chronic exposure to heavy metals triggering ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

In March I asked for volunteers for this new study. Participants needed are residents diagnosed with either Crohn’s or Colitis, as well as residents who do not have either of these illnesses (a control group).  I received many volunteers to participate.  Thank you!   However, I do not want to miss anyone who may want to participate in this ground breaking study.

If you have not already contacted me* to volunteer and you are willing to participate in this study, both diagnosed residents and non diagnosed residents, please e-mail me as soon as possible.  The study begins in the next two weeks.  

Contact Info:  jamie_paparich@hotmail.com   or  northportproject@hotmail.com

* If you are not sure if you contacted me already please feel free to e-mail again!

The study is simple, and will take only a few minutes of your time.  You will be contacted by the research team, either by telephone or e-mail depending on your preference, to give your consent to participate in the study.  A questionnaire and a kit including scissors and nail clippers to obtain hair and nail samples will be sent to your home.  You will then send the packet back to the researchers, and the assays will be done at their lab.

Thank you so much to the community for your amazing support in volunteering for this much needed study!

 

Contact Info:  jamie_paparich@hotmail.com   or  northportproject@hotmail.com

Linking Air Pollution to Colitis & Crohn’s

Linking Air Pollution to Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease;                      

A statement for Northport residents, epidemiologists, research organizations and universities on an opportunity for an epidemiological case-control study on Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis that continues to be ignored

By Jamie Paparich

Extensive studies continue to be done on human health issues linked to exposure to air pollution. It is well documented that exposure to air pollution has been a contributing factor in multiple forms of lung and heart diseases.

However, almost no studies have been done on the effects of air pollution on the gastrointestinal tract, specifically the intestines. Even though the bodies intestines absorb the majority of the toxins inhaled and ingested from air pollution.

Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis are the two known inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). Crohn’s disease can cause inflammation throughout the entire GI tract, anywhere from the mouth to the anus. It most commonly effects the small intestines, causing chronic inflammation of the lining of the small intestines.  Ulcerative colitis impacts the large intestine/colon.  Colitis causes inflammation and open sores, or ulcers on the lining of the large intestine/colon. Both Crohn’s and Colitis causes severe abdominal discomfort and frequent emptying of the colon. These diseases are incurable and impacts not only the patients long term health, but also their quality of life. The scientific and medical community have been unable to discover what causes these rare diseases, which limits the treatment options.

AIR POLLUTION

Depending on where you are, air pollution can contain anything from fire smoke, ash, emissions from smelters, mining operations, power plants, construction sites, road construction, and automobiles…just to name a few. All air pollution contains particulate matter (PM). Particulate matter is liquid and solid particles suspended in the air that contains a mixture of the toxic pollution, the dust and pollen in your air.  The particulate matter is how the toxins from pollution enter the body. 

Exposure

Inhalation & Dermal:

There are two sizes of particulate matter.

– PM 10:  10 microns (a millionth of a meter) in diameter or less. These are small enough to be inhaled and accumulate in the respiratory system. Many of the particles pass from the respiratory system through mucus down the GI Tract.

– PM 2.5:  2.5 microns in diameter (1/10,000 of an inch). These are so small they are inhaled into the respiratory system, but then are able to pass through the lungs into the bloodstream, and also from the respiratory tract through the GI Tract. These size particles can also be absorbed through the skin.

Ingestion:

The particulate matter falls onto gardens, crops, the food animals ingest, water sources, and the water ways fish inhabit. In turn, we ingest the PM through those products when consumed.

NORTHPORT AIR POLLUTION

In the case of Northport, air monitoring has shown that our air contains dangerous levels (way above safety standards) of arsenic and cadmium.  This is from the emissions released from the smoke stack at Teck Resource, a Canadian smelter located 3 miles upriver. The particulate matter in our pollution contains several heavy metals, not just arsenic and cadmium, because of the smelters emissions. 

BODIES REACTION

Gastrointestinal Tract

    • Inhalation:  Once particulate matter is inhaled into the respiratory tract, it is sent through the GI tract through mucocilliary clearance, eventually entering the intestines.  The majority of the  particulate matter inhaled into the body will end up in the intestines.  Not all of these toxins are expelled from the body. Many are absorbed and accumulate into the intestinal walls. This induces systemic effects; directly effecting the epithelial cells (the barrier between toxic invaders and healthy cells lining the intestine). System inflammation then triggers immune activation.  Over time, this leads to the immune system turning on the bodies good cells as well.
    • Ingestion:  Food and water containing PM toxins are ingested into the stomach, then passed to the intestines, where the toxins will, once again, spend the longest amount of time in the body, before being expelled from the body. The toxins not expelled will also inducing systemic effects, system inflammation, and eventually immune over stimulation.

IMMUNE SYSTEM & BIO-TOXICITY

Particulate matter alters the body’s immune system reaction. The immune system discovers and destroys disease causing organisms, viruses, and foreign agents in our bodies. The immune system kicks into overdrive due to the ingestion and inhalation of particulate matter, especially containing heavy metals. Eventually the chronic, overstimulation of the immune systems will cause chronic inflammation throughout the body, or to specific organs. 

Exposure to high levels of heavy metals is an obvious concern.  However, the more dangerous type of exposure is long term exposure, even to low levels.  This type of exposure causes the heavy metals to slowly accumulate in the bodies organs, causing biotoxic effects.  According to the research published in Heavy metal pollution and human biotoxic effects, (Duruibe, J. O. 1 *, Ogwuegbu, M. O. C. 2 and Egwurugwu, J. N. 3),  “….(G)eneral signs associated with biotoxicity of (sic) cadmium, lead, arsenic, mercury, zinc, copper and aluminum poisoning:  gastrointestinal (GI) disorders….”

INFLAMMATORY BOWEL DISEASE

In people with IBD, the immune system attacks the heavy metal toxins in the intestines.  Because of the accumulation of heavy metals toxins, from chronic exposure to specific air pollution, some individuals immune systems go haywire, attacking the toxins and healthy cells.  This eventually leads to chronic-inflammation, ulcerations, and thickening of the intestinal wall.  The result of this is Crohn’s disease or Ulcerative Colitis, and likely several other auto immune health issues.

However, not all people exposed to the same level of specific heavy metal toxins will develop Crohn’s or Colitis.  When the first cluster of Northport residents with either Ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease was discovered in 1992 statistically 1 in 100,000 people in the U.S. were diagnosed with one of these IBDs.  In 1992 Northport’s population was approximately 375 people, and 15 residents had been diagnosed with either Crohn’s or Colitis.  In 2012 a research team from Massachusetts General Hospital’s Crohn’s and Colitis Center conducted an IBD study of Northport and confirmed 17 people had either Crohn’s or Colitis, the population in 2012 was still around 375 people.  This is 11.5 to 15 times higher than the national standard. 

In 1992 and 2012’s study the residents diagnosed with either Crohn’s or Colitis lived within a two mile radius of each other, in the Columbia River Valley.  This valley was nicknamed “The Heavy Fallout Zone” by the EPA, due to the high levels of heavy metal toxins found in their sampling.  The levels were so elevated in this area because Teck’s air emissions, full of heavy metal toxins and sulfer dioxide, would flow north down the river and become trapped in the valley.  There is would settle, the particulate matter falling onto every surface below it, and being inhaled by the residents living on the little farms scattered along the banks of the river. These residents were chronically exposed to the dangerously high levels of arsenic and cadmium in the air for decades. 

However, the question still remains.  Why did some of these residents, living in the “heavy fallout zone”, contract Colitis or Crohn’s and some didn’t.  It impacted the children who grew up in the area the most, but not all of the children.  In the study; Exposure to ingested airborne pollutant particulate matter increases mucosal exposure to bacteria and induces early onset of inflammation in neonatal IL-10-deficient mice, (Salim SY1, Jovel J, Wine E, Kaplan GG, Vincent R, Thiesen A, Barkema HW, Madsen KL), the research team aimed to determine if exposure to particulate matter during the neonatal period and early-life would alter colitis in a mouse model.  The team concluded “Our data suggest that early exposure to pollution particulates can result in an earlier onset of intestinal disease in genetically susceptible hosts and can alter responses to gut injury in later life.”

Scientist have not been able to discover an inheritance/genetic pattern to IBDs.  Most scientists and researchers whose work is focused on Inflammatory Bowel Diseases and the GI Tract believe both genetic and environmental factors trigger the illnesses. 

Science Director of the Science and Environmental Health Network (SEHN) , Ted Schettler, M.D., M.P.H., shared his thoughts about the high occurrence of these diseases in our area; “If it is in anyway related to smelter emissions I’d wonder about changes in the intestinal micro biome as a plausible mechanism that could link metal exposure to inflammatory bowel disease.”

EPIDEMIOLOGY CASE-CONTROL STUDY

The community of Northport exceed all of the requirements to conduct an accurate epidemiological case-control study of the contribution chronic exposure to specific heavy metal toxins in air pollution has on triggering inflammatory bowel disease, as well as the impact it may specifically have on the immune system response.

The EPA is currently conducting a Human Health Risk Assessment of the area, as part of their agreement with Teck Resources in conducting remedial investigations and feasibility studies of the Upper Columbia River area and Northport. The EPA, nor Teck have any plans to monitor our air in any of the investigations or assessments.  The EPA has no interest in looking at the cluster of diagnosed cases of Crohn’s or Colitis in the area, spanning three generations. 

Today members of the community continue to be diagnosed with Crohn’s or Colitis, and more will continue to be diagnosed until something is done. 

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.

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.

Northport Residents – Meeting with multi-media project “Their Mines, Our Stories” – May 28th

Their Mines, Our Stories, is a multi-media project started by two professors from the Evergreen State College. Anne Fischel (Media and Community Studies) and Lin Nelson (Environmental Health and Community Studies) began this project by documenting the experiences of individuals in communities who worked at, and/or lived close to, one of the ASARCO smelters. ASARCO is the largest polluter in the United States and is responsible for 20 Superfund sites.

Their project grew to involve research, film, photography, oral history, analytical writing, a website and a documentary sharing the experiences and struggles of people in Ruston/Tacoma, WA; Hayden, AZ, and El Paso, TX. The project focuses on the complexity of the relationship between communities who relied on ASARCO for employment, while later discovering the smelter was poisoning them at work with unsafe working conditions, and impacting their families health and safety from their massive, unregulated pollution. All this and then fighting with the EPA and other government agencies to help protect them.

Anne and Lin, as well as Carlos Martinez, a representative of the Smeltertown community in El Paso, will be visiting Northport Saturday, May 28th. There will be an informal meeting with the group at Northport High School, Saturday, May 28th at 2:00 p.m.. We will discuss our similar experiences, share ideas and strategies on how small communities impacted by big polluters can come together and create a larger information network and make positive changes, as well as “impact and strengthen the policy frameworks that shape environmental…health.”

We will also be screening their documentary; “Under the Smoke Stack.”

Anne would also like to film interviews with any Northport residents interested in sharing their stories.  She will provide me with the edited filming she completes to share on our website and attract the attention of documentary makers.  If you would like to share your story on video we will be filming those Sunday, May 29th.

If you are interested in attending the meeting and/or being interviewed on film please e-mail me a short note letting me know so I can have an accurate head count.
E-mail: Northportproject@hotmail.com

“Their Mines, Our Stories” – Northport Meeting
Date:          Saturday, May 28th
Time:          2:00 p.m.
Location:   Northport High School

Filming interviews with residents
Date:          Sunday, May 29th
Time:         TBA
Location:   Paparich Farm (4598 Mitchell Road)

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