Trail Facility Environmental Improvements

$1.7 billion in upgrades

In support of Teck’s commitment to the communities where we operate and protection of the environment, since the mid 1970s, more than $1.7 billion has been invested in a modernization program to improve operational and environmental performance at Teck Trail Operations. Through the introduction of the KIVCET smelter in 1997 and subsequent operations improvements, emissions to air and water have been reduced by over 95%. 


Fugitive Dust Reduction Program

Fugitive dust describes air emissions other than stack emissions, such as dusting from stockpiles, dust from mixing materials, and vehicle traffic on and offsite. Following the significant reductions in stack emissions, the Fugitive Dust Reduction Program was initiated to further reduce lead in community air. Since 2012, our Fugitive Dust Reduction Program has delivered an 80% reduction in metals in community air.

This reduction was achieved through major investments and operational improvements, including: 

  • construction of the Smelter Recycle Building in 2016 to enclose mixing and storage of feed materials – the facility is approximately the size of two Canadian football fields

  • installation of a 10-metre high wind fence, which reduces dusting where feed materials are mixed

  • installation of wheel washes and truck washes onsite to help reduce tracking of materials onto roads

  • enhanced roadway cleaning, via street sweepers and water trucks, to provide a year-round program of roadway sweeping and flushing

  • identification and reduction of fugitive dust sources from work activities inside operating plants

Sulphur Dioxide (SO2) Reduction Program

Teck Trail Operations currently captures more than 99% of the sulphur contained in feed and meets the highest standard for sulphur capture for base metal smelters across Canada, which is equal to levels of capture achieved in new facilities.  

Teck Trail Operations operates under permits established by the BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (ENV). With the recent addition of SO2 to the Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards, permitted levels have dropped. In response, Trail Operations is driving improvements to lower SO2 emissions through several completed and ongoing initiatives, including:

  • two new state-of-the-art Acid Plants, which were installed in 2014 and 2018

  • upgrades to the SO2 scrubbing systems, which were completed in 2020

  • an upgrade to the KIVCET feed drying process, expected to be completed in 2023

  • additional improvements to operational controls through sophisticated weather modelling and data analysis to support air quality predictions and inform short-term production adjustments

Effluent Management Improvement Projects

We operate in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. The ongoing evolution of laws and regulations requires ongoing improvement across our operations, which we fully support and where technological advancements have an important role to play. In 2016, Teck Trail Operations developed a series of Effluent Management Improvement (EMI) projects, with a total value of $20 million, to reduce the frequency of future incidents at outfalls and minimize risk to the aquatic environment. Teck Trail Operations successfully completed the EMI projects in 2021, which included: 

  • construction of a reservoir at our C-IV outfall to reduce the possibility of effluent incidents

  • installation of a stormwater management pond at the Combined-II outfall

Monitoring and Reporting

Teck Trail Operations has an extensive monitoring program related to air emissions and water effluents. We conduct more than 90,000 air and water measurements each year to ensure compliance and drive continuous improvement.

Teck Trail Operations continuously samples, monitors, and reports upon the water quality of the effluent leaving the site via the outfalls at the Columbia River.  Our Aquatic Effects Monitoring Program is an in-depth review of the aquatic health of the Lower Columbia River downstream of the operation. Learn more

Air quality is monitored at a variety of locations throughout the Trail area. Metals and sulphur dioxide are measured at stations at Birchbank, Warfield, Butler Park, and Columbia Gardens, 24 hours a day. Near real-time data is transmitted to Teck Trail Operations’ process control systems so actions can be taken if levels in community air rise (such as during a temperature inversion or during periods of higher emissions). This information is analyzed by Teck Trail Operations’ environment staff and reported to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy as well as the Trail Area Health & Environment Committee.

Teck Trail Operations is a proud partner in the Trail Area Health & Environment Program, and we are committed to the collaborative work in support of community health and well-being. More information on community air quality and how we collaborate with the community and regulatory agencies towards continuous improvement can be found at the Trail Area Health & Environment Program website