Federal officials and environmentalists are concerned about an unwelcome Canadian export. They say expansion plans at Canadian coal mines could be pushing heavy metal pollution across the border into Montana.
“We’re seeing increased selenium runoff from existing mining activity, that’s why we’re concerned,” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Regional Director Jim Martin is quoted as saying in this morning's Missoulian. “We’ve had a number of formal and informal conversations with the (British Columbia) provincial government.”
The Missoulian reports that in addition to selenium—which quickly becomes toxic at high levels—the mines contribute high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus compounds that "interfere with the river system's aquatic life."
Many of the mines belong to the Teck Resources Corporation, the world's second-largest exporter of metallurgic coal; and about 90 percent of Teck's production is exported to Asia, Europe and South America.