1.0 The Issue: The US EPA's Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) Report cites Teck’s Red Dog Mine as the Biggest Polluter in North America
What is TRI?
Context: The Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) is a publicly-available Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) database on toxic chemical releases and waste management activities reported annually by certain industries and federal facilities. Mining companies operating in the United States have been required to report TRI numbers to the EPA since 1998. Find out more at www.epa.gov/tri.
Why are Red Dog's TRI numbers so high?
The mining industry as a whole reports high TRI numbers due to materials identified as toxic (ie: lead) that are naturally contained in rock excavated from mine sites. For example, when miners at Red Dog move a pile of rock from one place to another, naturally-occurring lead is deemed "released" by the US EPA, and is thus subject to TRI reporting requirements.
Due to the high-grade rock and ore at Red Dog, this mine has reported the nation’s largest TRI ‘release’ for the past few years. However, these releases are not pollution in the conventional sense. Our records of TRI releases indicate that 99.9% of the total reported releases are in the form of piles of rock that have been mined, stored and thoroughly managed in an environmentally-responsible way on-site. The remainder (0.1%) is primarily from the use of drilling products (methanol for ice melting) necessary to conduct our activities in the Arctic winter months.
How are the TRI materials managed at the mine site?
Rock piles containing these naturally-occurring minerals are heavily regulated according to strict permitting and environmental compliance rules. At Red Dog, the rock piles are constructed in a way to collect all run-off (which would be hazardous to the environment) and continuously monitored. The mine is also certified to the ISO 14001 Environmental Management Standard, which further ensures strict oversight over the rock piles.