In separate letters to RDEK board members, Teck reported that there are no high-priority or stability issues at any of Elk Valley operations or at the Sullivan Mine site.
After the disaster at Mount Polley where a tailings dam breach emptied mine waste into Polley Lake, the B.C.Chief Inspector of Mines ordered a review of all tailings pond facilities in the province.
Teck Coal Limited conducted Dam Safety Inspections (DSI) at Elkview Operations, Greenhills Operations and Fording River Operations, concluding in each case that there were no issues with their dam structures.
In addition to the DSI reports, other third-party studies included using a ‘worst-case’ hypothetical dam failure to assess emergency response plans and the potential environmental consequences.
“This helps ensure that our emergency response planning is done to the most comprehensive and thorough level possible,” wrote Nic Milligan, the community and government affairs manager for Teck, in a letter to RDEK board member Mike Sosnowski.
“At the same time, it is important to note that the reports indicate that a failure of this kind is extremely implausible, given the extensive monitoring and safety measures in place at each operation.”
Currently, the DSI reports are under review by the government and will be made public sometime this month.
In light of the Mount Polley disaster, Sosnowski is pleased with the effort Teck made in their review of Elk Valley operations.
“Teck Coal keeps local government very well informed on everything and everything that’s going on,” said Sosnowski. “They return our calls, any questions that we have, they’re a very good corporate partner in the Valley.
“After Mount Polley, [I was] just very pleased to see Teck do what the government told them to do, but that the results of the testing were very positive.”
While no longer in active mining operation, there are still active tailings pond at the Sullivan Mine, however, a separate DSI report indicated that there aren’t any safety or stability concerns for the 14 earthen dams that make up six tailings impoundments at the site.
Like the Elk Valley report, a third-party study of a ‘worst-case’ scenario featuring a hypothetical breach was created to develop emergency response plans and environmental consequences.
“The dialogue has been great, very open,” said Kimberley mayor Don McCormick. “We’re completely satisfied with the report. In the whole remediation over time, Teck has kept in close conversation with us, there are no surprises and it worked out really well.”
DSI reports are conducted annually, and detailed Dam Safety Reviews are conducted by a third-party engineer once every five years.