For decades, the smelter run by Canadian mining giant Teck Cominco just north of the border and upstream from Washington dumped prolific volumes of waste into the Columbia River — so much so that a “black sand” beach in a little town called Northport is actually made out of waste slag.
The company did this with impunity, until the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, the recipients of much of the waste, got the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency involved. The EPA a few years ago agreed not to name the river a Superfund site, so long as Teck Cominco — aka Tech Resources — agreed to do studies comparable to a Superfund investigation.
A story today by Jack McNeel in Indian Country Today says a 1 1/2-year-long health study is now underway. And over the weekend came news from Becky Kramer at the Spokane Spokesman-Review: Teck has now agreed to haul away all the mining waste that makes up Black Sand Beach. (Yes, it’s apparently become a proper noun.) It was a fraction of the hundreds of tons of mining waste dumped daily by the smelter in Trail, B.C.
Casting our eyes a little farther afield, we see the EPA is also declaring a mine in Southeast Alaska as qualifying for the Superfund designation.
And our final bit of mining news for today: Down in Arizona, the federal government has put a temporary moratorium on mining claims in the Grand Canyon and the surrouning Kaibab National Forest.