Federal Court in Yakima Holds Canadian Company Liable for Decades of Contamination
NESPELEM, Wash., Dec. 14, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, a judge in the United States District Court in Yakima issued a ruling that Canadian mining and smelting giant Teck Metals, Ltd. is liable under United States environmental law for contaminating the Columbia River with millions of tons of smelting waste.
In finding Teck liable under the Comprehensive, Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA, also known as Superfund), the Honorable Judge Lonny R. Suko ruled that, "for decades Teck's leadership knew its slag and effluent flowed from Trail downstream and are now found in Lake Roosevelt, but nonetheless Teck continued discharging wastes into the Columbia River." The court noted Teck's manager's recognition that it, "had been treating Lake Roosevelt as a 'free,' 'convenient' disposal facility for its wastes." Given this conduct and connection with Washington, Judge Suko decided that Teck could be tried in Washington, even though its smelter is located in Canada.
"We are very pleased with this outcome," said John Sirois , Chairman of the Colville Business Council. "Now that the Court has found that Teck is liable for its contamination of the Columbia River, we look forward to its participation in cleaning it up and paying for any resulting damages."
Included in the decision, the judge determined:
- Between 1930 and 1995, Teck intentionally discharged at least 9.97 million tons of slag, including heavy metals such as lead, zinc, mercury, cadmium, copper, and arsenic, directly into the Columbia river via outfalls at its Trail smelter.
- Teck knew its disposal of hazardous waste into the Upper Columbia river was likely to cause harm, and was told by the Canadian government that its slag was toxic to fish and leached hazardous metals.
- Pursuant to CERCLA, Teck is liable to the Tribes and the State in any subsequent action or actions to recover past or future response costs at the Upper Columbia river site.
PR Newswire (http://s.tt/1wZCr)