Bigger plume points to chimney repairs at Teck

The plume from Teck's zinc stack will be more visible this week as the company tries to get the repair to its main chimney completed.

The situation will get worse before it gets better.

The plume from Teck Trail Operations’ zinc stack will be more visible this week as the company tries to get the repair to its main chimney completed.

Trail Operations has been dealing with the ongoing issue for almost two months within its acid and absorption plants that has resulted in a more visible plume from the main zinc stack for the last two months.

Catherine Adair, Teck’s community engagement coordinator, said the company is completing maintenance work on the plants, and has made significant progress to date.

She also noted that, although the plume’s visibility will increase, the environmental house is still in order for the mining giant.

“Metal emissions have not increased and we remain within our permit levels for both metals and particulate,” she said Monday.

The company will be conducting additional work this week—and the plume will be more visible for a short period of time—that will have a positive impact on the plume’s appearance going forward, said Adair.

However, she could not put a timeline on when the work on the repair would be complete.

In the future, she said the new No. 1 Acid Plant, currently under construction, would help to improve Teck’s operational reliability and environmental performance.

A more visible plume coming from the main zinc stack drew “dozens” of calls of concern to city hall in early August and to its council members as people became anxious about the irritating column of exhaust that was emanating from the plant site’s smoke stacks.

Teck’s general manager, Greg Belland, told city council in late August the company was dealing with an ongoing issue within its acid and absorption plants that resulted in a more visible plume. He said the plume was primarily ammonium bisulphate, an irritant but not a health risk.

The problem resided primarily in the largest acid plant, Belland explained, where the absorption tower was not working properly, overloading the clean up pump. As well, the converter which changes sulfur dioxide gas was not operating well and some of the gases were getting through.

If anyone has concerns or feedback for Trail Operations they can call the Trail Operations Environmental Issues Line (24 hour) at 364-4817.