British Columbia: Canadian mining company liable for pollution flowing from Kootenays to U.S. – by Bob Keating (CBC News British Columbia – June 18, 2019)

Top U.S. court denies Teck’s appeal; miner now on the hook for legal costs, cleanup

Vancouver-based mining giant Teck has run out of appeals after polluting the Columbia River and Lake Roosevelt in Washington State for decades from its huge lead-zinc smelter in Trail, B.C.

The U.S. Supreme Court will not hear Teck’s appeal of the case brought by the Colville Confederated Tribes (CCT) in Washington State. The CCT successfully argued Teck used the Columbia River in southeastern B.C. as a “convenient disposal facility for its wastes.”

“This is a battle that the Colville Tribes has been fighting for at least 20 years,” said CCT Chairman Rodney Cawston. The Supreme Court’s decision to not hear Teck’s appeal leaves a previous ruling in place, awarding over $8 million in legal costs to the tribes. It also makes Teck responsible for cleaning up the damage from decades of pollution.

“Our reservation is situated just below the Canadian border and so a lot of those heavy metals and the waste coming from that corporation was coming down into the upper waters of the Columbia.”

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals originally ruled Teck routinely discharged thousands of tonnes of heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium, mercury and lead into the Columbia from its smelter, and that those pollutants flowed downstream into Washington State and Lake Roosevelt, a reservoir created by the Grand Coulee dam.

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