Ktunaxa Nation Council appalled to learn Teck Coal has appealed the Province’s penalties for water quality pollution

Ktunaxa Nation Council appalled to learn Teck Coal has appealed the Province’s penalties for water quality pollution

 March 9, 2023

ʔa·kisk̓aqǂiʔit / Cranbrook, B.C.:

Despite reporting revenues exceeding $10 Billion CAD from its coal business unit in 2022, Teck Coal Ltd. (Teck) has chosen to file appeals to the January 2023 decisions by the Ministry of the Environment (ENV).

The ENV decisions resulted in penalties in excess of $16 Million CAD to the company for impacts to water quality in Ktunaxa ʔamakʔis, including continued exceedances of water quality limits and the failure to build and operate water treatment required under Provincial permits.

“During the time frames outlined in the penalty determinations, hundreds of thousands of kilograms of untreated contaminants—which were required to be treated—instead entered the Elk and Kootenay rivers,” Ktunaxa Nation Chair Kathryn Teneese has noted.

The Ktunaxa Nation Council (KNC) was encouraged by the provincial decision maker’s determinations, which include the recognition of Ktunaxa perspectives, jurisdiction, and involvement in trying to protect ʔa·kxam̓ is q̓api qapsin (All Living Things), including water.

These determinations demonstrate that provincial regulatory enforcement action is finally moving to hold industry accountable for its pollution in the Elk Valley.

While Teck’s appeals do not deny it failed to comply with permit conditions designed to protect the environment, the company is still seeking to have the penalties substantially reduced.

Teck contesting the penalties as too high appears to be in conflict with Teck’s own Indigenous People’s Policy, which speaks to respecting Indigenous perspectives and addressing adverse impacts from its mining operations.

“That Teck would use legal avenues to avoid and minimize responsibility rather than taking accountability for harms to the environment by paying these penalties and improving its performance is disappointing,” said Teneese. “Particularly given that KNC’s involvement was significant in informing the Ministry’s decisions and penalties.”

The Ktunaxa Nation Council views these appeals as disrespectful to both Ktunaxa exercising jurisdiction in their homelands and the regulatory regime intended to protect the environment, particularly when considering that the penalties issued to Teck amount to a mere 0.16% of the company’s 2022 coal revenues.

The Ktunaxa Nation Council will continue to advocate for ʔa·kxam̓ is q̓api qapsin, and to support compliance and enforcement actions and processes, including the determinations made by ENV on January 31, 2023.


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