File photo

File photo

Teck’s water treatment facility temporarily offline

Teck Coal Ltd. is continuing to work on their West Line Creek Active Water Treatment facility in order to rectify selenium issues that led to fish mortality back in 2014.

The company has been in the pilot stage of testing out new technology for the facility and will now be taking their current system offline in order to make the switch.

“We have recently completed the successful piloting of a new advanced oxidation process (AOP) which has been identified as a solution to this challenge,” said Nick Milligan, Manager of Social Responsibility for Teck. “We are now preparing for full installation of the AOP at the water treatment facility, which is anticipated to be completed for summer 2018.”

During the transition process, the water treatment facility will be shut down.

“We will be working closely with government to ensure the shutdown proceeds in accordance with necessary authorizations and in a manner that ensures the continued safety of people and the environment,” said Milligan.

Local environmental critics are voicing concerns over the move however, stating that the company is not providing long-term solutions to the issue of selenium leaching into waterways.

“Teck’s government-mandated Elk Valley Water Quality Plan calls for two water treatment plants to be online by 2018 in order to meet the short-term selenium reduction goals in the plan,” said Ryland Nelson, in a statement released on behalf of Wildsight. “It’s clear that Teck won’t be able to meet their commitment to have two working treatment plants by 2018.”

He says that Teck has been working hard to find an immediate solution, however, a long-term change in processes for mining companies is required to further protect water quality in Canada.

“We need to get all levels of government to the table to address the long-term selenium pollution issue,” said Nelson. “We’re looking at centuries of water pollution and we desperately need some leadership from government.”

Nelson says that Wildsight is in support of the Ktunaxa Nation’s calls for a transnational study in partnership with the US Kootenai Tribes into the polution of the Elk River, flowing into the US.

“This work is part of our commitment to implementing the Elk Valley Water Quality Plan, and ensuring the health of the watershed is maintained for future generations,” said Milligan.