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Teck Trail Operations fined $2.2M for 2019 spill

Teck spilled 2.5 million litres of a low pH solution into the Columbia River

Teck Metals Ltd. in Trail has been fined $2.2 million for a 2019 effluent spill.

In a Jan. 10 release, Environment and Climate Change Canada says Teck spilled 2.5 million litres of low pH solution (acidic) into the Columbia River on Feb. 26, 2019.

According to Teck Trail Operations, the company entered a guilty plea and will pay $2.12 million for violations of the Fisheries Act and Environmental Management Act and an additional $80,000 to the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation for fish and habitat conservation projects.

“We take this incident very seriously and are committed to continuous improvement and enhancing our environmental performance,” said Thompson Hickey, general manager, Teck Trail Operations. “An extensive investigation was undertaken immediately following the incident and additional control measures and training have been implemented to prevent a recurrence.”

Teck says it reported the spill when it occurred, and that “a third-party independent environmental impact assessment has determined the incident did not have any long-term impact on fish or the environment given the duration of the incident and the nature of the discharge.”

Environment and Climate Change Canada says the company’s failure to exert due diligence contributed to the duration and extent of the spill.

“In this case, the low pH effluent was caused by a leak of an acidic solution from the company’s fertilizer operations in Warfield. Much of the discharged effluent was below pH 4, which is deleterious, or harmful to fish.”

Teck Trail says it has since taken action by implementing additional effluent system training and procedures as well as preventative maintenance, including additional safety and function tests. The company says primary and backup diversion valves have been repaired and tested to ensure they are functioning as designed.

Since 2019, the company says over $10 million has been invested for projects that protect the aquatic environment including a new pond at one of Teck’s outfalls focused on stormwater management.

Read: Major maintenance planned for Teck Trail

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Jim Bailey

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