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Coal miner hit with $60M fine for selenium damage | Local News

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Selenium is a trace element that causes reproductive damage in fish and other creatures in excessive amounts. Calcite, essentially limestone powder, seals over the streambeds of waterways where it’s released, blocking the growth of plants and insects the fish need to feed on.

“Between 2017 and 2019, we saw the disappearance of 93% of the adult westslope cutthroat trout,” said Lars Sanders-Green of Wildsight, a Canadian conservation group monitoring the Teck activity in British Columbia and Alberta. “There’s about 100 fish left in the Upper Fording River tributaries, well below what’s needed to be self-sustaining.”

In February, Montana Sen. Mike Cuffe, R-Eureka, and Rep. Steve Gunderson, R-Libby, led an effort to overturn those selenium standards, arguing there was no evidence of fish damage but the restrictions could hurt the economy of Lincoln County. State Department of Environmental Quality Director Chris Dorrington disputed those claims, noting researchers had already found reproductive damage in Montana fish.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved the same standards for selenium levels as Montana on Feb. 26, the same day the Senate Natural Resources Committee killed Cuffe’s SB 324 on a 7-5 vote.

Teck Resources mines coal via mountaintop removal, and sells it to foundries for steel and metal production. Sanders-Green said while Canada’s energy-producing coal mines have hit hard economic times similar to the wave of coal bankruptcies in the United States, the market for metallurgic coal remains strong.

Read More: Coal miner hit with $60M fine for selenium damage | Local News

2021-03-28 19:45:00

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