It cost $800

RDCK suing Teck over HB mine contamination

The Regional District of Central Kootenay has launched a lawsuit against Teck Resources Ltd. over contamination from a tailings pond.

The Regional District of Central Kootenay has launched a lawsuit against Teck Resources Ltd. over contamination from a tailings pond near Salmo.

According to a statement of claim filed late last month with the BC Supreme Court in Vancouver, the regional district wants reimbursement for ongoing remediation work on the old HB mine site, which it bought for landfill purposes in 1998.

Teck, formerly Cominco, owned the property from 1955 to 1981 and operated the mine until 1978. The regional district says the contamination consists of lead, zinc, cadmium, and arsenic and that “numerous” tailings releases occurred while the mine operated.

It also cited a 2007 incident in which flows from the tailings pond spread to a nearby property. In July 2012, heavy rain caused a sinkhole to form on the pond’s earthen dam. The regional district spent more than $800,000 stabilizing and reconstructing the dam, which it billed to the province.

It claims Teck “failed to take any steps … to prevent the migration of the contamination off of the property to the off-site areas” while the RDCK continues to incur costs for remediation.

It says that work includes building an engineered wetland to treat surface water, groundwater monitoring, and completion of a containment berm to prevent leaching. However, it’s not clear from the statement of claim exactly how much taxpayers have been on the hook for.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

RDCK chair John Kettle said the lawsuit was filed only after “making every effort” to convince Teck the materials in the tailings pond are their responsibility, even though the company has not owned the property for more than 30 years.

“We believe when you create an environmental hazard like that, you can’t just sell it and walk away,” he said. “You’re liable for clean up. We intend to pursue that as aggressively as possible. Their belief that caveat emptor applies is asinine.”

Teck said it had yet to receive the statement of claim, but in a written statement the company said it has a “long history” of working collaboratively with communities, including regional districts, municipalities and indigenous people.

“We will review the claim with counsel and we intend to respond in due course,” the company said.

At the time of the tailings dam problem in 2012, CBC News reported that the regional district paid $650,000 more for the site than the previous owner, a Panamanian company that purchased it only a year earlier.

The lawsuit comes as a tailings pond at the Mount Polley mine southeast of Quesnel was breached this week, preventing hundreds from using their water.

Just Posted

Choir leader’s selfless work wins her Castlegar Citizen of the Year

Christina Nolan has grown the community choir into a strong and vibrant asset for the city

Water main maintenance ongoing in South Castlegar and Blueberry

Project will take two weeks — city says there should not be any service disruptions

Downtown businesses want you to love them this weekend

Third annual event encourages people to shop in their own community.

Police investigating man’s death in Winlaw

Foul play not established, but major crimes unit is investigating

Grand Forks woman assaulted in home invasion

The incident took place Wednesday morning

New airline regulations bring compensation for tarmac delays, over-bookings

Some of the new regulations will roll out in July, while others are expected for December.

Kootenay man arrested and charged in 2015 murder

Nathaniel Jessup 32 of Creston has been charged with the second-degree murder of Katherine McAdam and offering an indignity to a body.

Scheer says it would take Conservatives five years to balance budget

Scheeraccused the Liberal government of spending $79.5 billion of previously unbudgeted funds

B.C. man, 30, arrested for driving his parents’ cars while impaired twice in one day

The Vancouver-area man was arrested after officers caught him driving impaired twice in one day

GALLERY: First responders in Fernie return baby owl to its nest

The baby owl’s inability to fly back to its nest prompted a rescue by first responders

More than half of Canadians support ban on handguns, assault rifles: study

Divide between rural and urban respondents in latest Angus Reid Institute public opinion study

Spring rain needed as B.C. sees one of the lowest snowpack levels in 40 years

Snowpack levels in B.C. recorded on May 15 were similar to those in 2015 and 2016

Theresa May to quit as party leader June 7, sparking race for new PM

The new Conservative leader will become prime minister without the need for a general election

B.C. man who fell off cliff returns there to rescue eagle from vulture attack

Nanaimo’s James Farkas, who broke his hip in a fall, saves eagle on same beach months later

Most Read