British Columbia

Sparwood, B.C., to install cameras to monitor coal dust, shrinking landscape caused by mine

District council approved cameras to watch Teck’s Elkview mine for billowing clouds of coal dust that come from blasting and to monitor how the mountains shrink over time as mining progresses.

Teck spokesperson says company takes dust management seriously, cites several initiatives

A photo from a district council agenda shows coal dust rising up after blasting work. (sparwood.ca)

Citing concerns over how a coal mine is changing the local landscape and impacting air quality, the District of Sparwood will begin using cameras to continuously monitor the facility.

On Monday, district council approved cameras to watch Teck's Elkview mine for billowing clouds of coal dust that come from blasting, and to monitor how the mountains shrink over time as mining progresses.

The district's chief administrative officer, Terry Melcer, says a recent expansion of the mine — which will take the operation within 300 metres of some homes — has prompted an increase in complaints from residents.

"Certainly we've heard concerns recently about dusting events," Melcer told Radio West host Sarah Penton. "We've been getting a little bit more feedback than normally."

A photo show coal dust arising from a Teck coal mine near Sparwood (sparwood.ca)

Melcer says the photos from the cameras will help people understand changes over the mine's expected 35 remaining years of operation.

It will also help the city check for new features, plan city work and even inform emergency planning.

Teck is required to provide the district with data, she said, but the cameras will allow for instant documentation of what's happening if there's a complaint about coal dust clouds, for instance.

"If you went out half an hour later, you really wouldn't see it," she said. "It gives us ready access if we receive a complaint."

Teck spokesperson Nic Milligan said in a statement that the company takes dust management seriously.

He cited their fleet of mister trucks that wet the ground and prevent dusting, their monitoring efforts and work to evaluate new technologies.

"We value being good neighbours, and we are committed to continually improving our performance," Milligan said.

Melcer estimates the cameras could be installed within a month.

Listen to the full interview with Terry Melcer:

With files form CBC Radio One's Radio West

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