Mining giant Teck has received three fines totalling $16.5 million for its operations in the Kootenays.
The first and largest fine of $15.5 million is for failing to have the company's Fording River south water treatment facility outside Elkford, B.C. operational by the required date of Dec. 31, 2018.
“The water treatment facility is required to treat effluent from the Swift, Cataract and Kilmarnock Creeks for selenium and nitrate, tributaries that have the highest concentrations of selenium in the Upper Fording River,” said a penalty briefing from the provincial government.
The penalty spans the period from Jan. 1, 2019 to March 15, 2021. The water treatment plant has since been completed and began operations on July 1, 2022.
An additional fine of $864,000 was issued to Teck’s Line Creek operations in Sparwood, B.C. for 48 nitrate exceedances in treated wastewater that occurred between January 2019 and February 2021.
“These exceedances ranged from 6% to 51% over authorized limits. This has been a persistent issue, with 180 nitrate exceedances since Feb. 2015. They have previously received nine warnings for this issue,” states the penalty summary.
The third penalty of $216,000 was issued to the company’s operations at Line Creek, Fording River and Greenhills (Elkford) over nine selenium exceedances in effluent wastewater.
“These exceedances ranged from 4% to 25% over the permit limit. Since the issuance of their authorization, there have been 93 daily exceedances and 45 monthly exceedances ranging up to 537% above the permit limit. They have previously received 5 warnings for this issue,” says the penalty summary.
These penalties come in the wake of a $60 million fine issued to Teck in 2021 over pollution related to its East Kootenay operations.