Teck Coal named in U.S. legal battle over selenium from its coal mines

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A Canadian coal miner is facing legal action in an American court over levels of a contaminant from its mines in U.S. waters.

Teck Coal Ltd. is one of three defendants in a request for judicial review brought by environmental groups from Montana and Idaho.

The groups charge that Montana state authorities illegally struck down a regulation that set limits for selenium in Lake Koocanusa, a reservoir that crosses the international border.

The selenium, which is toxic to fish, originates in Teck's coal mines in British Columbia's Elk Valley.

Court documents filed in Montana say Montana's Board of Environmental Review and Lincoln County Commissioners exceeded their authority when they rolled back selenium limits set by state and federal agencies.

They did so after being petitioned by Teck.

A similar request for judicial review has also been filed by a Montana state environmental agency.

The long-running dispute has involved the Canadian federal government as well as the U.S. Senate and White House, which wants Canada to join an investigation into the contamination.

Teck has paid millions of dollars in fines over the issue, although it says it is now capturing almost all the selenium from its mines.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 18, 2023.

The Canadian Press