News Type: State, Regional, Federal Source: wildsight
Click here to read the article: https://wildsight.ca/blog/2018/05/09/polluting-our-neighbours-rivers-and-our-own-selenium-in-the-elk-valley/

British Columbia has vowed to stop Kinder Morgan from building a bitumen pipeline across our province, over pollution and climate concerns. But on the other side of the province, in the Kootenays, pollution of a different kind is flowing from BC into Montana.

From Teck’s five open-pit Elk Valley coal mines, selenium-contaminated water is flowing south from the Elk River into Koocanusa Reservoir and the Kootenai River in Montana. Both Southeastern BC and Northwestern Montana are famous for their trout fishing, but selenium pollution builds up in trout, causing birth defects or complete failure to hatch. While BC won’t accept risky Alberta bitumen crossing our rivers or in the Salish Sea, we’ve taken a much softer stance on our own pollution flowing to our neighbours.

Without real changes to the way we mine, BC is on track to leave an international toxic legacy that will keep flowing for many hundreds of years.

The State of Montana, the US Environmental Protection Agency and the American tribes of the transboundary Ktunaxa Nation are fed up with years of broken promises and secrecy from Teck and BC, while more and more dangerous selenium crosses their border in Lake Koocanusa. Selenium levels in fish in the lake are rising steadily, threatening their ability to reproduce. With discussions across the BC/Montana border yielding no real results, our American neighbours have pushed the issue onto the agenda for the regular bilateral meetings between our federal governments, with the first discussion in late April.