Teck fined $3.4 million for polluting Columbia River

Teck Metals’ Trail Operations

Plus, new think tank offers Smart talk on clean economy and Vancouverites like to declutter

Big pollution fines
Environment Canada has assessed fines of $3.4 million to Teck Metals for 13 separate incidents of polluting the Columbia River with water containing substances including copper, zinc, ammonia, chlorine and cadmium at Teck Trail Operations. These discharges happened between November 2013 and February 2015.
The incidents included the following: concrete accidentally entered an outfall, causing the pH to rise; a failed valve check resulted in a short release of ammonia; and a power outage caused a temporary shutdown of the dechlorination system, allowing chlorinated water to be released. “Incidents of this kind are simply not acceptable. That is why we are working hard to improve our environmental safeguards,” said Thompson Hickey, general manager of the Trail operations, in a release. “Following each incident, we conducted a thorough review and implemented specific corrective actions. We are also investing in additional measures that further enhance our operations and improve overall environmental performance.”
The release also noted that Teck is investing $8.1 million in improved environmental controls, including construction of an upstream outfall retention reservoir. The majority of the fines will be designated to local conservation, restoration and protection of fish and fish habitat, and biodiversity enhancement in the lower Columbia region.

Tank of ideas
A group of prominent Canadian business and political leaders including Telus CEO Darren Entwhistle has launched an effort to promote a wide array of clean energy initiatives such as high-efficiency vehicles and buildings, carbon pricing and user fees for water.

Calling itself Smart Prosperity, the group released its first report at an event at the Telus Garden in Vancouver on Tuesday, with a special appearance by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. According to the document, the group wants to “harness new thinking to map out, and accelerate Canada’s transition to a stronger, cleaner economy.” Other members of the think tank include executive chairman of Alterra Power Corp Ross Beaty, former Toronto mayor David Miller, former president of Shell Canada Lorraine Mitchelmore, former national chief of the Assembly of First Nations Phil Fontaine, and Dragons’ Den investor Arlene Dickinson.
“We have two critical innovation opportunities in Canada right now,” said Annette Verschuren, former CEO of Home Depot Canada, in the report. “One is to enable our traditional industries to reinvent themselves in order to compete in a low-carbon economy. The second is to build capacity for the emerging clean-tech entrepreneurs, who are going to be the economic engines of this country.”
The report was unclear, however, on what steps will be taken to achieve such stated goals as accelerating clean innovation, boosting energy and resource efficiency, and conserving and valuing nature. Instead, it promised to “bring together the best ideas and examples of our generation to offer practical and actionable guidance and support to all levels of government, industry, and civil society organizations.”

Waste not
Maybe it’s because we’re so cash-strapped by our housing costs, but Vancouverites sell, rent or donate their stuff more than residents of any other major city in Canada. According to the 2015 Second-Hand Economy Index, released on Tuesday, people in Vancouver granted a second life to an average of 80 products last year. That was slightly over the national average of 77.
The report, whose authors included UVIC professor Lindsay Tedds, found that Canadians saved an average of $480 each by buying second-hand goods and earned an average of $883. The second-hand economy supports up to $36 billion in economic activity that may not have occurred otherwise.