A $46-million project to remediate historic groundwater contamination is now complete, Teck Trail Operations announced on Tuesday.
Commissioning of the Groundwater Treatment Plant is currently underway, the facility is expected to be fully operational by the summer.
“Teck is committed to ensuring the environment is protected and to addressing effects related to historical operations,” Community Relations Leader Catherine Adair told the Trail Times. “This includes a comprehensive plan to address groundwater affected by historical activities. As part of this work, we have completed construction of the $46 million Groundwater Treatment Plant, a key part of our groundwater remediation plan.”
Groundwater beneath Trail Operations is intercepted by two wells located along the riverbank between Trail Operations and the Columbia River. Water is then pumped up to the Groundwater Treatment Plant, treating up to 4,500 cubic meters per day.
Adair says the process involves three steps. Metals are first removed, which are then reprocessed through Teck’s existing operations. The second step is removal of ammonia, using bacteria that eats the ammonia (a biological nitrification process), and the third stage involves testing the treated water.
“To ensure it meets all regulatory requirements, and sending to the river through one of our existing outfalls,” added Adair.
The plant will use modern treatment technology to treat affected groundwater to remove substances of concern and meet all regulatory requirements. There are no human health concerns as the groundwater to be treated is not a source of drinking water. In addition, studies conducted to date have found that the fish populations in the river are not affected by the groundwater and the water quality of the river meets drinking water standards.
“The Groundwater Treatment Plant demonstrates our commitment to addressing effects of our historical operations and aligns with our ongoing focus to ensure the environment is protected,” said Thompson Hickey, general manager, Teck Trail Operations.
Affected groundwater is located directly beneath Trail Operations, under the Columbia River and under part of East Trail. Substances, such as variable concentrations of ammonia, sulphate and some metals, are believed to have originated from historical operations and storage of materials prior to the 1980’s.
“There are no human health concerns as the groundwater is not a source of drinking water,” said Adair. “And it would not be encountered by everyday activities at any affected residential properties as it is at least five meters below the ground and, in many cases, deeper.”
Studies conducted to date have found that the fish populations in the river are not affected by the groundwater and the water quality of the river meets drinking water standards.
Construction of the treatment plant began in March 2015, and has taken approximately 174,000 hours to complete, which is the equivalent of 85 jobs over the duration of the project.