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Originally published Sunday, April 8, 2012 at 9:16 PM

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B.C. smelter loses to Colville Tribes in pretrial part of pollution suit

Teck Resources is accused of dumping millions of tons of smelter slag into the upper Columbia River.

The Spokesman-Review

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The Colville Tribes and the state of Washington won a victory in a pretrial phase of a lawsuit against Teck Resources over the dumping of millions of tons of smelter slag into the upper Columbia River.

Last week, Federal District Court Judge Lonnie Suko dismissed Teck's "divisibility defense," in which the Canadian company had asked the court to divide liability among a number of yet-to-be identified river polluters, leaving Teck with a small share.

Michael Finley, chairman of the Colville Tribes' business council, said that if Teck is found responsible for polluting the river, in a trial scheduled for September, the company will be responsible for cleanup costs. However, U.S. law would still allow Teck to seek contributions from other polluters, he said.

Teck operates a smelter in Trail, B.C., which over the past century dumped at least 23 million tons of slag into the river, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Teck stopped discharging slag into the river in 1995.

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