Many people attended the local open house held recently by Teck designed to inform and educate the public on how they plan to reduce selenium levels found in Line Creek and the Elk River. With coal mining accelerating the release of the naturally occurring compound selenium, the West Line Creek Selenium Active Water Treatment Facility aims to reduce the amount. The project will be part of the selenium management study for the environmental assessment for the Line Creek Operations Expansion. Speakers, Nic Milligan Manager of Community and Aboriginal Affairs, Matt Gay Project Manager and J.P. Bechtold Golder Associates, Ltd. spoke to the public, showed an informative slide show of the project and answered questions from those attending.
Beginning in 2010 Teck commissioned the Strategic Advisory Panel on selenium management. A series of studies began to look in depth into several methods that could be chosen to reduce the rising selenium levels, and active biological water treatment became the most feasible and best option. This process creates a reaction in the water where selenium can be captured and removed from the water.
At an expected capital cost of 80 million dollars and operational costs of 5 million dollars per year the project will involve the construction of a treatment facility, an intake structure on West Line Creek, a combined intake and outfall structure on Line Creek, above ground conveyance systems and other associated infrastructure. The facility will treat all or most of Line Creek and will be able to manage flow changes throughout the year. Major elements of the Active Water Treatment Facility will be intake structures, pH adjustments, heat exchangers, two stage fluidized bed reactors for selenium reduction, liquid solid separation units, aerobic polishing units sand filters, de watering units, outlet structure and a residual handling and storage facility. It is expected they will dispose of solids on site in a newly constructed landfill or in a pit lake under conditions that would prevent the release of captured selenium.
This project is not without potential effects such as disturbance of the stream bed during construction, changes to water flow from the intake to output, changes to fish passage and possibly an enrichment effect. Precise monitoring systems will be in place to manage and help prevent some of these negative effects.
This project is still in the early stages of pre feasibility/feasibility with the permitting process now being conducted along with engineering efforts. The treatment facility is expected to be operational after commissioning and start up in 2014.