The Line Creek Treatment facilities, which shutdown in October 2014, are set to start in the fall, with full operations resuming in early 2016.
The facility halted operation last fall after the deaths of 74 fish in a three-week period from mid-October to early November. The official cause of death was nitrate poisoning along with low oxygen levels in the water. The facility failed to remove chemical from the water, including hydrogen sulfide, ammonia and carbohydrates.
Nic Milligan, Teck manager of community and Aboriginal affairs, said that additional time is needed to address some of the comments and concerns about the operation of the plant. “We are taking time to address comments on the restart plan from various stakeholders, including regulators, to improve the operation of the plant, including improvements intended to prevent a reoccurrence of the unfortunate fish mortality incident,” he said.
The treatment facility’s intention is to remove selenium from the Fording River. An Environment Canada report released in 2014 cited high levels of selenium in the water the cause behind birth defects in trout, including malformed spines, gills and fins, among other issues. The Line Creek Treatment facility is part of the Elk Valley Water Quality Plan, a five-year plan to combat the high selenium levels. The Line Creek facility costs $100 million and the overall plan has a price tag of $600 million.
“The water treatment facility is based on proven active biological treatment technology, which removes selenium and nitrate from mine-affected water. It is part of the overall water management efforts we are undertaking through the Elk Valley Water Quality Plan,” said Milligan.
Plans for re-commissioning are slightly delayed, as it was originally set for mid-2015 with full operations starting by the fall.