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Wednesday, October 21, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Smelter must pay tribes’ legal bill, court says

The owner of a Canadian smelter must pay the Colville Tribes about $8.3 million for legal fees and environmental studies related to ongoing litigation over the smelter’s discharges into the Columbia River, a recent court ruling said.

B.C. smelter reports spill from broken pipe

A British Columbia smelter released about 24 gallons of wastewater tainted with heavy metals on Wednesday, but it’s unclear if the water reached the Columbia River.

B.C. smelter spewed heavy metals into Upper Columbia River valley

Smokestacks from a Canadian smelter deposited high levels of lead and arsenic into the Upper Columbia River valley, new soil testing has confirmed. To protect children from lead exposure, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will begin cleaning up rural properties near Northport, Washington, where young children and pregnant women live, said Laura Buelow, an EPA project manager. The goal is to get the properties cleaned up quickly, though it’s still unclear how many will need soil removal, she said.

Judge keeps Teck Metals suit alive

Six Washington residents who blame their chronic health problems on a Canadian smelter’s industrial pollution can continue their lawsuit against the smelter’s owner, a federal judge ruled this week. The plaintiffs are current or former residents of Northport, Washington, which is about 15 miles downwind and downriver of Teck Metals Ltd.’s smelter in Trail, British Columbia. The smelter dumped millions of tons of waste containing heavy metals into the Columbia River over nearly 100 years, and blew more pollutants out of its smokestacks.

Teck American reopening Pend Oreille Mine

With zinc prices rising, Teck American Inc. plans to reopen the Pend Oreille Mine in northeast Washington by the end of the year. About 80 people are already working at the underground mine near Metaline Falls, and the workforce should swell to about 240 by December, said David Godlewski, Teck’s vice president for environment and public affairs. The company’s intent is to have the mine back to full production by the fourth quarter, he said.

River tests raise health concerns

Testing is needed to determine if historic smelter pollution poses a health risk to rural residents and tourists in the upper Columbia River Valley, Washington state officials say. High levels of lead and arsenic were found in soil samples taken from commercial timberlands along the river. A second study found elevated levels of heavy metals in sediments from 10 lakes and wetlands.

Researcher seeking clues behind clusters of disease in tiny town

NORTHPORT, Wash. – Rose Kalamarides was in her early 20s when she was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis.    Her older brother also got the debilitating disease. So did one of her childhood friends, her third-grade teacher and a former classmate at her elementary school. At the kitchen table of her mother’s home in Northport, Kalamarides noted a common thread in each diagnosis: People who got sick were from families who were downwind and downstream from a smelter in Trail, B.C., that funneled pollution through the narrow canyon of the Columbia River.

Teck, Colville Tribe go to trial over slag

In the early 1990s, anglers in the Upper Columbia River reported seeing beads of liquid mercury floating in the water. The sightings were followed by advisories from the Washington Department of Health warning people to limit the fish they ate from the river.

Judge bars Teck ‘divisibility’ bid

The Colville Tribes and the state of Washington won a victory in a pretrial phase of a lawsuit against Teck Resources for dumping millions of tons of smelter slag into the upper Columbia River. Federal District Court Judge Lonnie Suko dismissed Teck’s “divisibility defense” last week, in which the Canadian company had asked the court to divide liability among a number of yet-to-be identified river polluters, leaving Teck with a small share.

Inflammation found in sturgeon

Juvenile sturgeon that ingested slag from Teck Resources’ Trail, B.C., smelter had chronic inflammation in their guts, according to a federal study. Thirty-seven juvenile sturgeon were captured in the upper part of Lake Roosevelt in October 2008. Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey examined their digestive tracts to see what they were eating. Slag was present in 76 percent of the sturgeons’ guts.

Looking back

The Trail, B.C., smelter 1896: Forerunner of Teck Resources’ current smelter opens to process copper and gold ore from the Rossland Mine in British Columbia.

Upper Columbia pollution under study

A massive study of industrial pollution in the upper Columbia River is wrapping up its second year of sampling. Researchers have tested 2,300 fish above Grand Coulee Dam for lead, mercury, arsenic, PCBs and other contaminants. While initial results don’t raise alarm bells for sport fish, higher readings were found in suckers, a long-lived species that prowls the river bottom.

Metals supplier recasts victory

If Lindsey Vonn wins a gold, silver or bronze during the Winter Olympics, the U.S. skier will be wearing metal recycled from old computers and cell phones around her neck. More than 6,000 pounds of metal went into the medallions that will be awarded to top athletes during the 2010 Vancouver Olympic and Paralympic games. The metals were provided by Teck Resources Ltd., Canada’s largest base-metals supplier. Some of the gold, silver and copper came from discarded electronics.

In brief: Retail sales, profits exceed forecast

NEW YORK – Wealthier shoppers went on a buying binge in January and even middle-income Americans spent a little more, retailers said Thursday. Some chains reported their brightest monthly results in years. The prospects for many stores’ fourth-quarter profit also brightened further. Macy’s, Gap Inc., Children’s Place Retail Stores Inc. and others raised their outlooks Thursday, because they didn’t have to discount as heavily to sell what they ordered for the holiday season and their total sales rose.

Smelter funding beach cleanup

A Canadian smelter has agreed to clean up a beach near Northport, Wash., that’s become a symbol for a century’s worth of pollution dumped into the Columbia River. Black Sand Beach takes its name from the slag generated by Teck Resources Ltd.’s smelter in Trail, B.C. A thick deposit of the glassy, granular pollutant covers the popular swimming beach.

Amid health problems, some Northport residents look to Canadian smelter

NORTHPORT, Wash. – Julie Sowards’ best childhood memories are tied to the Columbia River. Leaning on a cane at the river’s edge, the 52-year-old Northport woman recalled how spring floods created the “pothole,” a swimming spot for local kids, in a sunken meadow on her parents’ ranch. Sowards and her siblings scouted for arrowheads on the Columbia’s banks. From sun-warmed rocks, they watched sturgeon in deep pools near the shore.