Teck to address air emission issues at Sparwood mine

Poorly performing dust collection system blamed for exceedances at Elkview Operations

Teck Coal has adopted new procedures and more frequent testing to monitor and maintain equipment that exceeded air emission permit limits and resulted in a $37,500 fine.

Last Thursday, The Free Press reported that Elkview Operations had been issued an Administrative Monetary Penalty (AMP) under the Environmental Management Act by the B.C. Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.

LOOK BACK: Teck fined $37,500 for exceeding air emissions at Sparwood coal mine

“The penalty is for failing to comply with the permit limit for particulate matter and for failing to maintain its coal breaker stack equipment in June of 2018,” said the Ministry.

It explained Teck had a pattern of non-compliance with the coal breaker stack tests.

From 2014 to 2019, five of 10 stack tests exceeded the permit limit. Exceedances were significant, ranging from 65 per cent to 252 per cent over the permit limit.

According to the Ministry, AMPs are discretionary financial penalties that can be administered with less onerous procedural and legal requirements than a court prosecution, making them an effective and efficient enforcement option.

“To date, 100 per cent of all Administrative Penalties have been paid,” said the Ministry.

Teck has attributed the exceedances to a poorly performing dust collection system at the Elkview Operations Breaker Station, which lies within the mining pit area.

A company spokesman explained that this is where steelmaking coal is broken down for processing and large rocks are removed.

“This facility is separate from the plant and dryer facility and does not impact nearby communities,” said Teck’s Manager of Social Responsibility Nic Milligan.

“At Teck, we’re committed to working to continually improve our environmental performance,” he continued. “We fully review all environmental incidents and take steps to improve environmental systems.”

Milligan said Teck will install a new air compressor system this year, which will further improve the quality and reliability of air to the system.

They also plan to install more filter gauges to monitor performance and regular testing for any air leakage throughout the system.

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