River Pollution
6:21 pm
Fri December 14, 2012

Canadian Smelter Found Liable For U.S. Pollution

A federal judge Friday found a Canadian smelter responsible for the millions of tons of pollutants it dumped into the Columbia River.

For nearly 100 years, smelter Teck Metals dumped pollutants into the Columbia River.
Credit kootenayvolcano / Flickr

For nearly 100 years, smelter Teck Metals dumped pollutants into the Columbia River, less than 10 miles upstream from the U.S.-Canada border. Over the years, close to 10 million tons of waste poured into the river. The waste, also called slag and slurry, contained mercury and other toxics.

The Colville Confederated Tribes and the state of Washington sued the mining company. A U.S. District Court judge has found that Teck Metals is liable for the pollution.

Canada objected. Its lawyers said the lawsuit infringed on Canadian sovereignty. A second trial phase will decide how much the company has to pay for its history of pollution.

Teck Metals stopped dumping slag in the Columbia River in 1995.

Copyright 2012 Northwest Public Radio