Friday, March 31, 2023

Lake Koocanusa is being poisoned

| March 3, 2023 7:00 AM

Lake Koocanusa is being poisoned. It’s been going on for decades. Who’s committing this atrocity?

Just over the border near Sparwood, B.C., the multi-national mining company, Teck Coal, has been leveling whole mountaintops. One of the negative side effects of their coal mining has been the leaching of selenium that flows into the Elk River, a main tributary of Lake Koocanusa.

Ten years ago, officials in the United States discovered the levels of selenium in Lake Koocanusa had reached toxic levels. Some fish were unable to reproduce because of the selenium pollution.

Two years ago, the E.P.A. set a new lower standard of .08 pmm, that would protect ‘the Rez’, from toxic overload. Currently, Teck Coal still continues to pollute at the old rate of 1.5 pmm. Sadly, Lincoln County representatives are supporting that Canadian company in not complying with the new standard.

Rep. Steve Gunderson, in Libby has introduced a bill, HB 473, in the Montana legislature that would support Teck Coal, by re-establishing the old higher level that poisons Lake Koocanusa every day.

Why? This issue was settled. It was studied extensively for ten years. Teck’s ill conceived plans to reduce the selenium amounts they spew into the rivers has failed. Plain and simple, they must comply with the new lower levels mandated by the EPA now.

As a life-long conservationist I’m horrified and heartsick that Lake Koocanusa, Lincoln County’s ‘crown jewel’ is in peril and that our locally elected officials, including our state Senator Mike Cuffe, choose to support the interests of a billion dollar polluter in another country.

Why, are they doing that? We deserve to know!

Carol Blake, Eureka, Montana