Hold Teck Cominco liable for polluting Columbia River

This letter was sent to Mike Leavitt, Administrator U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Thomas Sansonetti, Assistant U.S. Attorney General.

In November 2004, the company Teck Cominco said it would appeal a Washington state judge’s decision to press charges for polluting the Columbia River for decades.

May 21, 2004

Dear Administrator Leavitt and Assistant Attorney General Sansonetti,

I urge you to stand firm and support the Environmental Protection Agency Region 10 efforts to clean up the Columbia River to standards required under U.S. environmental laws.

Region 10’s decision to hold the mining company Teck Cominco liable for the billions of gallons of toxic waste it dumped into the Columbia River is legally supportable and fiscally responsible. The river supports agriculture, fisheries and recreational industries in Washington and draws more than a million visitors a year.

Data provided by the Canadian government shows that from 1994 through 1997, Teck Cominco dumped into the Columbia more arsenic, cadmium and lead than the combined total discharges of these metals into American rivers from all other sources. The high concentrations of these heavy metals in the river sediments pose a health risk to humans and the environment.

Our state Governor Gary Locke and Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell all have spoken out in favor of Region 10’s efforts. I also urge you to reject any proposal that would allow Teck Cominco to evade its clear obligations under U.S. superfund laws.

Please enforce the law and hold this polluter — not American taxpayers — liable for the contamination it has caused.


Tracy Wolpert
CEO, PCC Natural Markets

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