Greater Trail lead and dust levels continue to drop

Lead and dust falls from Teck have been on a downward trend in the summer, but the levels in the air in Tadanac still remain high

Lead and dust falls from Teck Trail Operations have been on a downward trend in the summer, but the levels in the air in Tadanac still remain high, says an official with the mining giant.

In a September meeting of the Trail Health and Environment Committee, Teck superintendent of environmental remediation Mark Tinholt said in his air quality report that Teck has reduced overall metal emissions through equipment upgrades, changes to plant processes and improving maintenance and operations.

This has resulted in a 95 per cent decrease in emissions of metals to air and water, something that has been decreasing since the mid-1990s.

The total suspended particulate is on a downward trend for East Trail and the hospital area, Tinholt noted, but the opposite was true for Tadanac, likely due to fugitive dust emissions.

“Tadanac does have a higher concentration and it is closer,” said Tinholt.

In January of 2011, the lead in dust falls rose to .1 milligrams per square decimeter hour (mg/dm2), the highest it had been in six years. It reached .8 mg/dm2 one year later in 2012.

Teck has recently initiated a focused fugitive dust project, with the objective of further reducing fugitive emissions from the company’s site.

The project includes studying the feasibility of enclosing open piles in mixing areas to further reduce fugitive emissions.

Air quality is monitored at a variety of locations throughout the Trail area. Metals (including lead and arsenic) and sulphur dioxide are measured at stations at Birchbank, Warfield, Butler Park and Columbia Gardens, 24 hours a day.

Dustfall is also collected on a monthly basis at 11 locations throughout the area. This information is collected and analyzed by Teck’s environment staff and routinely reported at THEC meetings, as posted in the meeting minutes on the THEP website,

The Trail Health and Environment Committee (THEC) is a collaboration among the City of Trail, Teck, Interior Health, the BC Ministry of Environment and community members.

The THEC grew out of the Lead Task Force, a partnership formed in 1989 to reduce pre-school children’s blood lead levels. Lead levels were identified as a key area of focus, and to a lesser extent, arsenic, through extensive studies undertaken prior to the formation of the task force, and continuing through to the present.

Currently, the air quality in Trail meets all applicable standards. The THEC has set goals to achieve continued reduction in lead and arsenic in air by 2018.