A $60-million penalty to Teck Coal underscores the urgent need for B.C. to adopt stricter coal-mining regulations in line with American states downstream of the same valley where four large projects have been proposed, according to the University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Centre and a binational coalition of environmental groups.
Last Friday, a Federal Court judge approved the largest Fisheries Act penalty ever for the subsidiary of Teck Resources after the mining giant put forward a joint submission with Environment and Climate Change Canada stating it contaminated waterways in southeastern B.C.’s Elk Valley with selenium – a natural element that washes out of piles of waste rock and moves up the food chain to cause deformities in fish and ruin their ability to reproduce.
The judge commended Teck as a good corporate citizen for spending $1-billion since the pollution was first uncovered by federal inspectors in 2012 and for co-operating to avoid a costly court case that would likely become the longest environmental lawsuit in Canadian history.
Company president and chief executive officer Don Lindsay released an open letter apologizing for the impacts on the region and Teck has agreed, under the deal, to remove selenium before it reaches the Fording River and enact a host of other environmental safeguards.
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