WASHINGTON – Vancouver-based TECK COMINCO and the U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY have reached an agreement that allows the mining company to conduct comprehensive human health and environmental assessment of the Upper Columbia River Basin, specifically Lake Roosevelt.
The possible pollution of Lake Roosevelt by slag from Teck Cominco’s metallurgical complex in Trail, B.C., has been a bone of contention for several years (see CMJ Net News for Dec. 17, 2003) among the company, the Confederated Colville Tribes and the EPA. At the centre of the controversy was the EPA’s insistence that it could order a foreign company to submit to the U.S. Superfund cleanup law for an operation wholly located outside the U.S.
Now an agreement has been reached that will see Teck Cominco fund scientific studies (something it was always willing to do) under the supervision of the EPA and with the participation of the Canadian government, the State of Washington, and the Spokane and Confederated Colville Tribes. The area to be studied is about 240 km long, from Grand Coulee Dam to the Canadian border.
The Colville Tribes expressed doubts about the agreement because they believe it does not follow EPA regulations or U.S. laws. They sued Teck Cominco in 2004. They are also involved in litigation before the U.S. federal court concerning their rights and remedies under the Superfund.
Background on the Lake Roosevelt situation is available at www.TeckCominco.com.