Has or will environmental enforcement increase now that we are presumably past the COVID-19 pandemic? Based on discussions and casual observations, it appears some provinces may be increasing their enforcement efforts. The enforcement actions below, however, are all on the federal level and include enforcement in British Columbia, Manitoba, and Prince Edward Island.
While it is not possible to avoid every mishap, the more proactive a company can be in self-assessing its overall environmental management and making corrections ahead of enforcement, the better.
Mining Company Ordered to Pay $200,000
According to a press release from Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), “On April 11, 2022, CaNickel Mining Limited was ordered to pay $200,000 after pleading guilty in the Provincial Court of Manitoba to two offences, which are violations of the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations made pursuant to the Fisheries Act. The fine will be directed to the Government of Canada’s Environmental Damages Fund.”
This, like most of the announced enforcement cases, reflects an incident that occurred in the past. In this case, CaNickel Mining was charged in December 2018. The incident occurred in July 2017.
The violation, according to ECCC was “one count of depositing or allowing the deposit of an effluent that contained a deleterious substance, in excess of authorized limits, in a place where the effluent may enter water frequented by fish (Bucko Lake).”
The environmental incident was, “higher-than-authorized levels of the radioactive element radium 226 in their effluent”.
Effluent sampling is a mandatory condition of an authorization to release mine effluent under the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations.
As a result of the conviction, the company’s name will be added to the Environmental Offenders Registry.
$650,000 for Violation of Fisheries Act
The Press Release from ECCC states, “On April 4, 2022, in the Provincial Court of British Columbia at Abbotsford, Delfresh Mushroom Farm Ltd. was ordered to pay a total fine of $265,000 and H.Q. Mushroom Farm Ltd. was ordered to pay a total fine of $385,000. These fines come after the companies, both having the same owner, entered guilty pleas on November 22, 2021, for two violations each of the pollution prevention provisions of the Fisheries Act. The offences relate to deposits of deleterious substances by each of the farms in waters frequented by fish, thereby contravening subsection 36(3) of the Act.”
ECCC recorded two incidents H.Q. Mushroom Farm in October 2015 and April 2016. According to ECCC, both incidents involved effluent deposits that were “deleterious substance(s) and acutely lethal to fish.”
Two incidents were also recorded at Delfresh Mushrooms in August 2018 and November 2018. The same violation occurred involving effluent discharges.
Charges were laid on September 23, 2020, at both facilities for violation of the Fisheries Act. Both companies’ names will be added to the Environmental Offenders Registry.
$50,000 Fine for Manure Spill
And finally, ECCC reports, “On March 23, 2022, Nobra Holsteins Inc. was sentenced and ordered to pay a $50,000 fine after pleading guilty to one count of contravening subsection 36(3) of the Fisheries Act related to a liquid manure spill that occurred on or about June 3, 2020. The fine will be directed to the Government of Canada’s Environmental Damages Fund. In addition to the fine, the company has been ordered to create a Manure Spill Prevention and Response Plan that will be readily available to all company employees and farm workers.”
At issue was a spill of liquid manure that impacted a local watershed. Both ECCC environmental enforcement officers and Prince Edward Island conservation officers were involved in the inspection on June 2 and 4, 2020.
According to the press release, there were dead Brook Trout in the watershed, and “the dead fish smelled strongly of manure…”
ECCC states that 530 Brook Trout were killed and the incident forced the closure of shellfish harvesting from June to late September 2020.
The company’s name will be added to the Environmental Offenders Registry.
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