A judge in Rossland, B.C., has issued a $3.4-million fine to B.C. mining giant Teck for polluting the Columbia River. 

The company admitted to discharging elevated levels of toxins such as ammonia and cadmium from its zinc and lead smelter in Trail, B.C., over about 16 months ending last February.

During the 16 month time frame, there were 13 separate incidents of discharge.

"These incidents we do not view as acceptable," said Teck's manager of public affairs, Richard Deane. "In addition to the specific corrective action, we are going to invest a further $8.1 million."

Deane says most of the fine will go to a conservation fund, arguing the company's environmental commitment is getting better. 

It's not the first time the company has been hit with a large penalty. In 2013, Teck was fined $210,000 for the release of chemicals into the Columbia River.

The company also admitted before a U.S. court in 2012 that their smelter had been polluting the Columbia for more than a century, with discharges of hazardous material dating back to 1896.  

Teck has already spent more than $1 billion improving its operations in Trail, and remediating the surrounding area.


  • More details have been added to this story to clarify the fact that there were 13 incidents of discharge over a 16 month period. The company did not continuously discharge elevated levels of toxins.
    Mar 01, 2016 9:57 AM PT
With files from Bob Keating