Teck Resources says it has finished construction on a $46 million groundwater treatment plant designed to clean up toxic groundwater that has collected beneath the city of Trail and the Teck smelter over the last century.
Five years ago the federal government ordered the company to clean up the water, which contains concentrations of ammonia, sulphate and some metals.
Teck spokesperson Catherine Adair says it's not clear exactly how much toxic water is beneath the Kootenay city and the adjacent smelter, but she expects it's going to take decades to pump out.
"We did cause the contamination so it is our responsibility to clear it up," said Adair.
The company is still running tests on the new plant and this summer the plant will pump toxic water from beneath Trail.
"We've installed two wells along the riverbank between our operations and the Columbia River and these wells will collect the groundwater and pump it to the plant for treatment," said Adair.
Once treated, the water will be pumped into the Columbia River.
According to the company the contaminated groundwater is not used for drinking and has not affected fish populations.
Teck's Trail smelter is one of largest zinc and lead smelting and refining operations in the world.