By Valentina Ruiz Leotaud
July 9, 2018 - A report made public by the Canadian Press states that US representatives on the International Joint Commission sent a letter to the US State Department stating that their Canadian counterparts are blocking the release of new data related to toxic chemicals from southern British Columbia (BC) coal mines in water shared by both countries.
According to the news agency’s account, the missive says that Canadian commissioners have not been willing to submit a report that addresses selenium pollution in transboundary waters of the Kootenai River drainage.
In detail, the document reveals that five waterways flowing into the transboundary Koocanusa reservoir have selenium levels at the maximum or above BC’s drinking water guidelines. High levels of the nonmetal could cause diseases in humans and reproductive failure in fish.
In the study it is said that the level of selenium in the Elk and Fording rivers is 70 times that in the Flathead River, which doesn’t get runoff from five coal mines operated by Teck Resources. Back in June, however, the commission’s two Canadian members refused to endorse a report on selenium in the Elk River watershed.
Within this context, the US commissioners wrote in their letter to the State Department that such negatives and the lack of immediate action could cause selenium to keep leaching into rivers and groundwater for centuries.
The Commission spokeswoman Sarah Lobrichon told CP that the report is still being reviewed by commissioners on both sides. Yet, in the letter to the State Department, the Americans say their Canadian colleagues prefer an earlier version of the report that, in their view, is weak on addressing the recently defined impacts of selenium.
According to CP’s account, Vancouver-based Teck Resources said in a statement that it does extensive water testing and that selenium levels are appropriate and protective of aquatic life.
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