Jan 12, 2018

Canadian Coal Mines Damage Kootenai River Watershed

The decades old problem now has the support of state and federal governments in a joint effort to pressure the Canadian coal mines responsible for watershed pollution

Montana watershed faces coal mine pollution

The U.S. Department of State and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson released a plan to protect the Kootenai River watershed, Mont., from upstream pollution coming from Canadian coal mines. Responding to pleas from Montana politicians Gov. Steve Bullock and Sen. Jon Tester, the department announced plans to put pressure on the Canadian government and conduct a review of pollution impact on the watershed.

The watershed pollution is a decades old problem stemming from the mining contaminant selenium which leaches from coal mine waste into the Elk River and travels downstream to the Kootenai River watershed.

According to Flathead Beacon, a local Montana news source, the problem was recently exacerbated when Teck Coal, which operates five steelmaking coal mines near Vancouver, shut down its water treatment facility on a tributary of the Elk River.