The fertilizer plant at Teck Trail has re-started after acidic effluent, originating from fertilizer operations, was discharged into the Columbia River early Tuesday.
The majority of the release occurred between 2 a.m. and 4:30 a.m., says Teck spokesperson Carol Vanelli Worosz.
“Our monitoring system alarms were triggered as designed when monitors registered a low pH reading, resulting in an internal response to address the issue,” she told the Trail Times.
“The investigation that is underway will determine what caused the pH level drop at the outfall.”
Reported as a “low pH incident,” the term means discharge at the C-IV outfall, located near the northern boundary of Teck Trail Operations, was acidic as opposed to neutral.
“We take this incident very seriously,” Vanelli Worosz said. “It is important to note that, based on an initial assessment, that the release does not create any health or safety risk to people, fish or wildlife other than potential short-term impacts on the aquatic life immediately at the outfall point.”
Tuesday afternoon, the B.C. Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy reported that pH levels in the water had returned to normal limits and there were no public health or safety concerns.
Teck Trail released a news statement as well, informing that fertilizer operations had been temporarily shutdown due to an acidic spill into the river.
The company reported that authorities from Emergency Management BC, the BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, and Environment and Climate Change Canada had been notified immediately.
B.C. Spills Response reported the incident shortly after 9 a.m. on Feb. 26.
“Initially, the acidic solution was entering the Columbia River but it is now being diverted into an on-site reservoir,” the report said. “An Environmental Emergency Response Officer will continue to monitor this incident and further updates will be provided when new information is available.”
The response report was updated at 1:40 p.m. that afternoon.
“The Teck Trail fertilizer operations plant is now in compliance,” the release stated. “The acidic solution that was diverted into an on-site reservoir will be neutralized prior to being released. Columbia River water testing indicates pH levels are within normal limits. The emergency phase of the response is complete, however the B.C. Conservation Officer Service will continue to investigate this incident.”