Colville Tribes Claim
Canadian mining and smelting giant Teck Metals Ltd. was found liable last week by a U.S. District Court in Yakima for contaminating the Columbia River with millions of tons of smelting waste.
The Colville Tribes of northeastern and central Washington, which joined the eight-year-suit against Teck in 2005, said the ruling has "great meaning" for the Tribes.
Teck conceded that it dumped nearly 10 million tons of smelting waste into the Columbia River, some of which included hazardous substances that deposited in the United States, and that its wastes leached heavy metals into the environment of the United States.
"For decades Teck's leadership knew its slag and effluent flowed ... downstream and are now found in Lake Roosevelt, but nonetheless Teck continued discharging wastes into the Columbia River," said Judge Lonny R. Suko, in his ruling.
"This river is the heart of our people. It has always been and will always be our homeland, and damages to our natural resources must be addressed," said John Sirois, chairman of the Colville Business Council, in a statement.
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