Teck Coal has reassured residents that heavily polluted water discharged from wash bays at an Elk Valley mine did not enter local waterways.
Over the weekend, The Free Press reported the mining company was fined more than $78,000 by the B.C. Government last year.
According to the government’s latest environmental enforcement report, between 2013 and 2015, there were numerous discharges from heavy duty wash bays at Teck’s Line Creek Operations near Elkford that exceeded permit limits for extractable petroleum hydrocarbons (EPH).
In October, Teck received three Administrative Penalties under the Environmental Management Act, totaling $78,100, for failing to comply with an effluent discharge permit for Line Creek.
Half of the permit exceedances were more than 50 per cent over the limit and a quarter were more than 200 per cent over the limit.
The report said Teck also failed to inspect and maintain authorized works, “notably an oil water separator which would have helped prevent the exceedance of permitted EPH levels”.
A third penalty was issued for failure to immediately report the non-compliances, with delays of up to 104 days.
According to the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, petroleum hydrocarbons consist of a range of organic compounds found in or derived for geological sources, such as oil, coal and bitumen, and including a variety of raw and refined fuels and lubricants.
Contamination can cause a “wide variety of problems related to their toxicity, mobility and persistence”, including a potential for fire or explosion hazard, and toxicity to some degree for human or environmental health.
Teck spokesman Chris Stannell reassured residents that there was no anticipated environmental impact from the discharges, which did not enter local waterways.
He said water from wash bays at Line Creek was now contained and transported by vacuum truck service for treatment off-site.
“In addition, we implemented enhanced monitoring technology and procedures to improve our detection and reporting,” said Stannell.
“At Teck we’re committed to working to continually improve our environmental performance. We fully review all environmental incidents at our operations and implement measures to prevent a reoccurrence.”
The Quarterly Environmental Enforcement Summary for the 4th Quarter of 2017 presents enforcement actions taken by multiple government agencies. Between October 1 and December 31, 2017, there were nine Orders, 94 Administrative Sanctions, 659 Tickets, eight Administrative Penalties and 28 Court Convictions across the province, with penalties totaling $350,752.