Teck Resources pled guilty Thursday to three violations of the federal Fisheries Act for polluting a tributary of the Elk River and was sentenced to pay a $1,425,000 penalty into the federal Environmental Damages Fund, which will help restore fish habitat in British Columbia’s Elk Valley.
After Teck’s Line Creek water treatment plant at the Elk Valley coal mines broke shortly after starting up in 2014, pollutants flowing downstream killed at least 74 bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout. This week Teck they was fined $1.4 million. That’s a lot of money, but then Teck had revenues over $4 billion in the Elk Valley coal mines last year.
The selenium pollution problem that the water treatment plant is supposed to solve is still getting worse. Selenium-leaching waste rock is still piling up every day. The treatment technology, which was supposed to be used for treatment plants up and down the valley, still isn’t actually reducing the total selenium toxicity for fish, amphibians and other aquatic life.
“This is an ecological catastrophe that is occurring, and it is not just isolated to the Elk River. It is clearly impacting the entire system from the top down and it’s only going to get worse. It’s by far the biggest ecological threat facing the Northern Rocky Mountain ecosystem and the Crown of the Continent,” said USGS aquatic ecologist Clint Muhlfeld.
Read more on the situation from Desmog Canada: