Line Creek fish deaths attributed to plant startup

The 74 fish found dead at Teck’s Line Creek Operations was the result of problems with the startup process of the water treatment facility.

A review has determined that the 74 fish found dead at Teck’s Line Creek Operations last fall was the result of problems with the startup process of the water treatment facility of the plant.

The actual cause of death was nitrite poisoning as well as a low level of dissolved oxygen in the water. The operation’s treatment facility also discharged ammonia, hydrogen sulfide and carbohydrates into the water.

The West Line Creek Water Treatment Facility normally worked to remove these components from the water, but it failed to on this occasion. The facility was installed at a $100 million price tag and was meant to reduce selenium levels in the water.

“We accept responsibility for this unfortunate occurrence and are now working to restart the facility and implement measures to prevent a reoccurrence,” said Robin Sheremeta, Vice President of Coal Operations in a release. “Teck is committed to learning from this incident and implementing the measures necessary to maintain water quality and aquatic health in the Elk River watershed.”

Additional staffing and improved monitoring are among Teck’s commitments to preventing a reoccurrence.

The deceased aquatic life itself began turning up on October 16, 2014 with the death rate rising by the dozens until November 5. Following the incident, the treatment facility was shut down to allow for Teck to decommission, restart and re-commission the operation.

Teck will begin the facility’s restart process in mid-2015 and it is expected to reach full operation levels in the fall.