Under Section 89 of the Environmental Management Act of British Columbia, the Minister of Environment issued Ministerial Order No. M113 in April 2013 requiring Teck Coal Limited (“Teck”) to prepare an Area Based Management Plan for the Elk Valley to remediate water quality effects of past coal mining activities and to guide future development. The area based management plan is titled the “Elk Valley Water Quality Plan” (EVWQP).
The Order was initiated as a result of evidence of increasing concentrations of selenium, cadmium, nitrate and sulphate in watercourses in the Elk Valley, as well as evidence of calcite formation in some of these watercourses. These issues are largely associated with historical and current mining activity, and in particular, leaching from waste rock dumps. By addressing water quality effects of mining activities, the Order intends to create a path forward for mining development in the area that ensures the protection of ecological and human health while taking into account socio-economic factors.
A requirement of the Order was for Teck to prepare a Terms of Reference (TOR) to outline the purpose, scope and process requirements for development of the Plan. This TOR was approved by the B.C. Ministry of Environment (MOE) on July 22, 2013. The Order requires Teck to submit a Plan to the MOE for approval on or before July 22, 2014. For more information on the Plan, please see Teck’s website.
A central process requirement in the Order is the establishment of a nine-member Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) to provide science-based technical advice to Teck (author of the Plan) and to the public during the development of the Plan. The TAC held seven meetings between Sept. 26, 2013 and July 10, 2014.
The TAC was composed of one representative (and one alternate) from each of the following:
- the Government of British Columbia, including
- The Ministry of Environment;
- the Ministry of Energy and Mines; and,
- the Environmental Assessment Office;
- the Government of Canada represented by Environment Canada;
- the US Federal Government;
- Montana State Government;
- the Ktunaxa Nation Council; and,
- an independent third-party qualified professional scientist.
The mandate of the TAC was to provide science-based technical advice to Teck and the public during development of the Elk Valley Water Quality Plan. Teck must consider all advice provided by the TAC. As well, all advice provided by the TAC must be documented in the Plan along with an explanation of how that advice was used.
The general method by which the TAC provided advice was through reviewing and advising on work packages and draft sections of the Plan provided by Teck. The work packages and draft sections of the Plan for TAC review were focused on the estimation and characterization of ecological effects, and the evaluation of the approach for maintaining the protection of human health.
The TAC provided advice to the public during development of the Plan through:
a) TAC meeting notes posted on this website, and,
b) attendance by the Chair of the TAC at public meetings and open houses.