Numerous groups call for Federal review of Teck Castle coal mine. Submitted photo.

Numerous groups call for Federal review of Teck Castle coal mine. Submitted photo.

Groups lobby for environmental assessment of Teck coal mine

“Castle would extract even more coal than has been mined at the original Fording River mine”

Teck’s Castle coal mine expansion would be the largest coal mine in Canada, producing 10 million tonnes of coal per year.

Despite Castle’s size, the coal mine won’t get a Canadian federal environmental assessment—unless Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson heeds the call of the First Nations, US governments and environmentalists.

Wildsight and Ecojustice join the Ktunaxa Nation, plus the US EPA, the State of Montana, and US Tribes in Montana and Idaho, in calling for the federal assessment of the Castle mine.

Environment Minister Wilkinson has until August 19th to decide if he’ll start an assessment of the coal mine.

“It’s hard to believe that the largest coal mine in Canada wouldn’t get the highest level of environmental assessment we have in Canada by default,” said Lars Sander-Green of Wildsight, one of the groups requesting the federal assessment, “But it seems that Environment Canada has accepted Teck’s argument that Castle doesn’t need an assessment because it’s too small.”

Castle would extract even more coal than has been mined at the original Fording River mine beside it, which is currently Teck’s largest mine.

While the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada has determined that the mine expansion is too small to qualify for a federal assessment, Wildsight and Ecojustice dispute Teck’s accounting, saying that the company shouldn’t be allowed to count areas that are only planned for mining in the future as part of their existing mine when comparing the size of the Castle expansion to the existing Fording River mine.

“Castle mine would be right beside the upper Fording River, where we found out last fall that 93% of adult trout disappeared in just the last two years.” added Sander-Green. “The federal government has a constitutional responsibility to protect fish and the rivers they live in, so it’s high time they take a hard look at what’s happening in the Elk Valley.”

Long-term water pollution flowing from Teck’s coal mines is a major reason cited by those requesting the federal review, noting the danger to fish not just in the Fording and Elk Rivers, but also downstream in Lake Koocanusa, through the Kootenai River in Montana and Idaho, and right back into Canada in Creston. Concerns about carbon emissions, travel routes used by grizzly bears moving along the Continental Divide, destruction of mountain grasslands important for bighorn sheep, and First Nations’ rights were also cited.

“If Minister Wilkinson is serious about addressing the climate crisis and protecting the environment, he won’t greenlight Teck’s attempt to expand B.C.’s largest coal mine without first conducting a full impact assessment of the project,” said Dan Cheater, a lawyer at Ecojustice.

While the mine will be reviewed by B.C.’s Environmental Assessment Office, those calling for the federal assessment point to worsening conditions in Elk Valley rivers despite three provincial reviews of mine expansions in the last seven years.

“The real problem here is that B.C. just won’t stand up to Teck to get them to clean up their act. B.C. won’t enforce provincial pollution limits and keeps turning the other way as the problem gets worse and worse” said Sander-Green, “so that’s why it’s so important for Environment Canada to step in now for a full federal environmental assessment.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
110 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Provincial health officers announced 1,005 new cases throughout B.C.

Tala MacDonald, a 17-year-old student at Mount Sentinel Secondary who is also a volunteer firefighter, has won the $100,000 Loran Scholarship. Photo: Submitted
West Kootenay student wins $100K scholarship

Tala MacDonald is one of 30 Canadians to receive the Loran Scholarship

Montrose resident Kimba McLean has hiked Antenna Trail every day since October and counting. Photo: Jim Bailey
Montrose man makes daily trek up Antenna Trail

Kimba McLean put on more than 800-km hiking Antenna Trail every day for the past six months

Kristian Camero and Jessica Wood, seen here, co-own The Black Cauldron with Stephen Barton. The new Nelson restaurant opened earlier this month while indoor dining is restricted by the province. Photo: Tyler Harper
A restaurant opens in Nelson, and no one is allowed inside

The Black Cauldron opened while indoor dining is restricted in B.C.

First-year Selkirk College student Terra-Mae Box is one of many talented writers who will read their work at the Black Bear Review’s annual (virtual) launch on April 22. Photo: Submitted
Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

(Black Press file photo).
UPDATED: Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

Most Read