An investigation is underway after contaminated water spilled from a Teck Metals mining facility in Trail B.C.
The company confirms there was a “short duration discharge of water containing metals” from its Trail Operations this afternoon.
The company says the spill lasted for about 15-20 minutes, and is believed to have happened when a line line carrying runoff water from a landfill area to its water treatment facility broke.
Teck Metals spokesperson Richard Deane says the water contained elevated levels zinc, cadmium, and arsenic.
“Our emergency crews responded quickly as being contained and stopped. There is no human health risk as a result of this incident and environmental monitoring work is being undertaken which will allow us to conduct a environmental assessment to determine what environmental impacts may have occurred.”
But it admits some of the water may have made it into Stoney Creek. That waterway is a tributary of the Columbia River.
Teck says regulators have been informed and that an environmental impact assessment will be undertaken.
The Ministry of Environment says it believes about 90 litres of liquid were spilled, and says it is evaluating samples taken from the spill site.
It says monitoring was done at Stony Creek and the Columbia River both during, and for an hour after the spill stopped, and that Washington State has also been notified.
Teck’s Trail facility has a long and storied record with environmental regulators.
The company admitted in 2012 that its facility, in operation since 1896, had polluted the Columbia River in Washington State for more than a century with slag from its smelting operation.
The company was slapped with a $3-million dollar fine in February of this year after pleading offences under the Fisheries Act linked to the effects of effluents from its facility on fish in the Columbia.
In 2014, the company accidentally dumped 25,000 litres of a solution containing sodium hydroxide into the river.
That spill came just months after the company was fined $210,000 for a 2011 spill, in which 350,000 litres of a solution with caustic soda in it was discharged into the river.
It also faced a 2013 class action lawsuit from residents downstream who alleged discharges from the facility harmed their health, which has since been withdrawn.
Teck says it has spent $1.5 billion dollars since 1970 on modernizing its plant and reducing its environmental impact.
With files from Shelby Thom