WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. SUPREME COURT has declined to accept a petition by Vancouver mining giant TECK COMINCO for a review and reversal of a lower court ruling in the lawsuit brought by the Colville Tribes regarding alleged pollution of Lake Roosevelt in upper Washington State. The lake is downstream from Teck Cominco’s 100-year-old metallurgical complex on the Columbia River in British Columbia.
Representatives of the tribes say the ruling means that the United States has jurisdiction over Teck Cominco under the U.S. Superfund law for the migration of the company’s byproducts downriver into the lake. The matter was discussed in more detail in “The Low Road to Clean Water” in the CMJ Net News of Dec. 17, 2003.
Teck Cominco and its supporters – the Canadian government, the B.C. government, and the chambers of commerce in both Canada and the United States – argued that diplomatic processes rather than the U.S. courts are the appropriate forum in which to resolve cross-border issues. Indeed, there is an International Joint Commission mandated to settle disputes such as these, and it settled a similar dispute about airborne emissions from Trail in the 1930s. In June 2003, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Teck Cominco agreed to allow the mining company to conduct a comprehensive human health and environment of the Lake Roosevelt area.
The court case now reverts to the District Court of Eastern Washington, where Teck Cominco (www.TeckCominco.com) will defend itself against the complaints.