A downward swing is a very good thing for Teck Trail Operations – when it refers to air pollution stats.
“There have been some very good initiatives which have reduced emissions by 50 per cent over the last four years,” says Trail Mayor Mike Martin. “(That has been) through many avenues, but the most significant impact has been the control of dust in the Smelter Recycle Building.”
As chair of the watchdog committee for Trail Area Health and Environment (THEC), Martin says the smelter has established a multi-year plan to continue its efforts to further reduce emissions.
The installation of wind fencing around the roaster concentrate handling area was the most significant and immediate initiative he mentioned.
Completed this spring to further reduce off-site dusting, the $1.9-million barrier is a 10-metre high and 250-meter long perimeter wind fence.
“Teck has a comprehensive fugitive dust program which provides the greatest opportunity to continue reducing community ambient metal levels,” says Community Relations Leader Catherine Adair.
“Since 2012, the program has achieved a 50 per cent reduction in fugitive dust emissions from onsite sources, including roads, mixing areas and buildings.”
The program included construction of the $40-million recycle building. Completed in 2016, the site enclosed mixing and storage of process feed materials, and significantly reduced off-site dusting.
These actions resulted in 2017 having the lowest annual average for lead in community air to date, which met THEC’s 2018 Air Quality goals one year early.
“We are seeing an improving trend in results,” Adair said. “As we continue to make significant strides in reducing metal emissions and improving community air quality.”
Air quality is monitored at a variety of locations throughout the Trail area. Metals (including lead) and sulphur dioxide are measured at stations at Birchbank, Warfield, Butler Park, and Columbia Gardens, 24 hours a day.
Dust fall is also collected on a monthly basis at eleven locations throughout the area. This information is collected and analyzed by Teck’s environment staff, regularly reported at THEC meetings, and posted in the meeting minutes on the program’s website www.thep.ca.
Additionally, Teck maintains real-time monitoring both on and off-site to identify and quickly respond to potential irregular operating conditions which may generate unusual emissions.