Trudeau spurns Boundary Waters Treaty fix for Lake K selenium

Joshua Murdock

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has indicated that the country likely will not address Canadian-caused water contamination in the U.S. through the Boundary Waters Treaty, despite a pledge in March to deal with the toxic mine runoff polluting the Kootenai River. 

The Ktunaxa Tribal First Nation in British Columbia has for years been at the fore of pushing the Canadian government to address selenium contamination from runoff water at massive open-pit coal mines around Sparwood and Elkford, northeast of Fernie. In trace amounts, selenium is essential to animal health. But in greater concentrations it accumulates in fish and bird ovaries, which leads to fewer eggs hatching, animals hatching with birth defects, and young that die before they can reproduce. The Ktunaxa Tribal First Nation, Kootenai Tribe of Idaho and Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes in Montana are part of the broader Ktunaxa Nation that was split by white settlers’ boundaries. 

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The Elkview Operation open-pit coal mine, operated by Teck Resources Limited, looms over Sparwood, British Columbia. The mine, pictured

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