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Teck moving forward on groundwater remediation

Teck Trail Operations is ready to put action to its groundwater remediation plan by constructing a $40 million treatment plant

Teck Trail Operations is ready to put action to its groundwater remediation plan by constructing a $40 million treatment plant.

The plant announced Tuesday that construction for the new facility is slated to begin as part of the company's remeditaion plan that addresses groundwater affected by the site's historical industrial activity.

The plan includes installing a series of wells, two of which have already been constructed, along the west bank between Trail operations and the Columbia River. Groundwater collected at the wells will be pumped up to the treatment plant for processing prior to discharge into the Columbia River.

The new treatment plant is part of the company's overall groundwater remediation project that's been underway since 2001. Teck's final remediation plan was submitted to Environment Canada three years ago, and since then the company has drilled various sites throughout Trail to assess the groundwater table.

Over the 100-plus year history of the Trail operations, concentrations of ammonia, sulphate and some metals seeped into groundwater beneath the plant, under the Columbia River and into the East Trail aquifer.

Additionally, effluent from the refining and smelting operations in Trail were stored on the property in unlined storage ponds up until the early 1980's.

The groundwater is not used for drinking, but requires ongoing assessment directly with the BC Ministry of Environment in part, to monitor the ecological condition of the Columbia River.

Studies to date show that fish populations in the river are not affected by groundwater and the river's water quality meets drinking water standards.

Three monitoring wells will be installed this spring at Gyro Park and along Dyke Road in East Trail. The wells delineate the area of affected groundwater and enable the company to assess and monitor the efficiency of the remediation system.

While the focus of the remediation plan was on affected groundwater, further environmental studies included groundwater migration off site. Lower Stoney Creek was identified as having groundwater impacts where the creek meets the river.

Another study assessed historical residual deposits in a localized area between Trail Operations and the riverbank, and the third, the potential groundwater impacts to downtown Trail.

Sheri Regnier

About the Author: Sheri Regnier

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