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Trail smelter awarded $1.98M in leaky water tanks case

The tanks were installed at Teck Trail during groundwater treatment plant construction
The Teck Trail groundwater treatment plant has been in operation since 2017. Photo:

A supreme court judge has awarded Teck Metals upwards of $1.98M in damages in a lawsuit brought against the supplier of water treatment tanks, installed at the Trail plant, that were ultimately proven to be defective.

Teck claimed negligence, breach of contract, and breach of statutory warranty for costs and expenses the company incurred for repairing two pre-cast concrete bioreactor tanks designed, engineered, manufactured, and supplied by LSC Pre-Cast Systems Ltd (LSC).

Teck alleged the tanks failed “due to dangerous defects,” which allowed water to leak from them when filled.

As key components of the $46M groundwater treatment plant built over two years and completed in 2017, the tanks were intended to store water containing ammonia, metals and sulphate.

LSC submitted a bid in 2015, then delivered the tanks in October that year. A subcontractor was hired to install the two tanks based on LSC specifications.

In March 2016, the subcontractor began filling the tanks with water to carry out hydrostatic testing. Court papers note, “As the tanks were filled they began to leak in a number of areas … LSC was contacted and it recommended certain methods to address the leaks.”

After the remedial work was completed by the subcontractor, when the tanks were filled, more leaks were found.

Teck then hired another company, Read Jones Christofferson Ltd., (RJC) to assist with a structural assessment. RJC further opined that the LSC design did not meet the basic strength and stability requirements of the building code.

In the summer of 2016, RJC made recommendations for adding new structural elements to bring the tanks up to compliance. The court papers state that once RJC repairs were carried out, the tanks no longer leaked.

In 2017, Teck demanded reimbursement by LSC. The lawsuit was filed after LSC refused reimbursement.

Teck sought a total of $1.98M to recover expenses incurred. On Sept. 7 in the Vancouver supreme courthouse, Justice Carla Forth agreed.

Though LSC was served, the company did not defend itself in court.

The purpose of the treatment plant is to remove trace amounts of ammonia and metals from groundwater before it’s released into the environment.

The affected groundwater is located directly beneath Trail operations, under the Columbia River, and a portion of East Trail. Teck has said the substances are believed to have originated from historical operations and storage of materials prior to the 1980’s.

Read more: Teck announces completion of Groundwater Treatment Plant

Read more: Teck moving forward on groundwater remediation

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Sheri Regnier

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