USA: Ecology Pleased with District Court Decision
A judge in the U.S. District Court in Yakima today issued a ruling that Canadian mining and smelting company Teck Metals Ltd. is liable under United States environmental law for contaminating the Columbia River with millions of tons of smelting waste.
Official statement from Jim Pendowski, manager of the Washington Department of Ecology’s Toxics Cleanup Program:
“This is a great day for the citizens and the environment of the state of Washington. The District Court has made a just decision in holding Teck Metals responsible for pollution in Washington that came from the company’s smelting facility in Trail, B.C. Teck discharged an immense amount of waste to the river over the last century, in close proximity to the border.
This included 10 million tons of slag waste, much of which visibly accumulated along the beds and beaches of the river in Washington State. Experts in the case confirmed Teck to be the dominant source of metals contamination in the Columbia River, south of the border.
These facts fully support the court’s ruling. The State and Tribes can now recover from Teck their costs for responding to the contamination in Washington. This will also ultimately allow the federal government, in conjunction with the State and Tribes as resource trustees, to hold Teck Metals accountable to perform cleanup and to restore or compensate for natural resources injured by the contamination. Had the court not found Teck liable, the burden of paying for a long and expensive cleanup could have fallen on taxpayers.
We are committed to working as partners with the Colville Confederated Tribes, the Environmental Protection Agency, and other federal and tribal interests. We hope Teck Metals will make the same commitment.
The water, sediments and soil of our scenic and beloved Upper Columbia River area are no place for toxic smelter waste, and our children should not grow up with a legacy of pollution.”
Press Release, December 17, 2012