British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

Selenium status : Elk River Valley, BC Chapman, Peter M.


The status of investigations into the effects (changes to a Valued Ecosystem Component [VEC]) or impacts (effects adversely affecting the utility or viability of a VEC) of selenium in the Elk River Valley, BC are reviewed. Previous studies focused on the abundant lotic (flowing water) habitats in the Valley and found limited effects (reduced sandpiper egg hatchability) but no impacts (overall sandpiper productivity higher than the regional norm). More recent studies have focused on less abundant high-risk lentic areas where selenium effects are more likely. Effects studies have been conducted with: red-winged blackbirds; various waterfowl species; Columbia spotted frogs; longnosed suckers. Based on studies conducted to date, current levels of selenium in the Valley do not appear to be having large-scale negative effects or impacts. However, some negative effects do appear to be occurring on a more localized level in some of the high-risk lentic areas. Studies are underway to assess whether or not there are population-level impacts in these lentic areas and, if so, their extent and significance. The possibility of management actions will be assessed accordingly.

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