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Montana news about the environment, natural resources, wildlife, climate change and more.

Meeting on Lake Koocanusa selenium pollution set for Nov. 9

The U.S. State Department and Global Affairs Canada will meet with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and the Ktunaxa Nation on Nov. 9.

The meeting aims to address selenium pollution coming from Teck Recourses’ coal mining operations along the Elk River. The Elk River flows into Lake Koocanusa and the Kootenai River in Montana. Selenium pollution is known to harm fish reproduction.

The tribes want the issue to be settled by the International Joint Commission, which handles trans-boundary water disputes between the U.S. and Canada.

CSKT Chairman Tom McDonald hopes IJC involvement would eventually lead to the closure of Teck’s mines.

“We would want to make sure that they’re going to immediately cease and desist from their actions that are causing an increase in pollution,” he says.

The U.S. State Department has long said it supports IJC involvement. Global Affairs Canada in a statement did not say whether it supports the move.

The meeting comes after President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a deal to address selenium pollution would come by summer’s end.

McDonald says it’s possible that a deal could be struck at this month’s meeting.

Aaron graduated from the University of Minnesota School of Journalism in 2015 after interning at Minnesota Public Radio. He landed his first reporting gig in Wrangell, Alaska where he enjoyed the remote Alaskan lifestyle and eventually moved back to the road system as the KBBI News Director in Homer, Alaska. He joined the MTPR team in 2019. Aaron now reports on all things in northwest Montana and statewide health care.
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