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Teck fined $2 million for acid spill

Teck Metals has agreed to pay a fine of $2.12 million for violations of the Fisheries Act and Environmental Management Act over an acid spill.

It relates to an incident from an outfall at Teck Trail operations on Feb. 25 and 26, 2019 that temporarily shut down the fertilizer plant.

The company entered a guilty plea and will also pay $80,000 to the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation for fish and fish habitat conservation projects.

The company says the incident was immediately reported to the regulatory agencies at the time and a third-party environmental impact assessment determined the incident didn’t have any long-term impact on fish or the environment. The company said no dead fish were observed, and there is no evidence the discharged effluent resulted in fish deaths.

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Teck refused an interview request, but in a news release, general manager Thompson Hickey said “We take this incident very seriously and are committed to continuous improvement and enhancing our environmental performance.”

“An extensive investigation was undertaken immediately following the incident and additional control measures and training have been implemented to prevent a reoccurrence.”

According to the release, the company put new effluent system training and procedures in place and new preventative maintenance including additional safety and function tests.

Primary and backup diversion valves were repaired and tested to ensure they are functioning as designed, the company said.

It was not immediately clear whether the spill was due to a mechanical problem or human error.

The company says since 2019 it has invested over $10 million on projects to protect the aquatic environment including a new pond at one of its outfalls focused on stormwater management.

In 2016, the company was fined $3.4 million after being found guilty of 13 accidental discharges of various damaging substances into the Columbia River between 2012 and 2013.

Teck Metals was also fined $60 million in 2021 for discharging selenium and calcite into the Fording River from its Elk Valley steelmaking coal operations in 2012.

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