Tracing the toxic impact of B.C. coal mining – by Corey Bullock (CBC British Columbia – May 17, 2023)

Concern is mounting over the effects of B.C. mines on aquatic life, with Indigenous groups, scientists and environmentalists in Canada and the U.S. saying action cannot be delayed.

South of the border, in Bonners Ferry, the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho is working to restore the population of Kootenai River white sturgeon. The landlocked species, found in B.C., Idaho and Montana, are in decline due to human activity, as are resident burbot populations.

“That’s why I’m here,” said David R. Weaselhead Jr., a technician at the tribe’s hatchery. “To restore the population of sturgeon and get it off of the endangered list.” However, while the tribe has had some success, there is growing concern about the effect that mining in B.C. is having on aquatic life.

For decades, coal mines in the province have been polluting the Kootenay River Basin, a cross-border watershed, leading to mounting concerns on both sides of the border around fish health — and recently prompting a joint agreement between Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Joe Biden.

Selenium and other chemicals leach from waste rock created by these coal mines — owned by the Vancouver-headquartered Teck Resources — in the Elk Valley, more than 940 kilometres east of the city.

For the rest of this article: