Environmental fines have been levied against companies in British Columbia and Quebec for an effluent spill and improper chemical storage, respectively, according to new government announcements.
The January 2023 fines address unrelated incidents that occurred in 2019.
In Trail, B.C., mining company Teck Metals reported a spill in February 2019 of some 2.5 million litres of low pH effluent into the Columbia River due to several operational errors. The company was fined $2.2 million and pleaded guilty to the charges.
One month earlier, Quebec metal supplier Récupération Brisson was found to have improperly stored residual hazardous materials. The room’s floor did not form a watertight basin that could manage the capacity required in section 34 of the regulation respecting hazardous materials, a provincial announcement stated. The company also failed to tightly close a container of residual hazardous materials placed outside, thus contravening section 45 of the same regulation.
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Récupération Brisson, in Portneuf-sur-Mer on the North Shore, was ordered to pay two fines of $7,500 each for a total of $15,000. It must also reimburse additional costs of $10,413. Overall, the company must pay nearly $25,000 for the environmental infractions.
In relation to Teck Metals, the effluent spill was caused by a leak of an acidic solution from the company’s fertilizer operations in Warfield, B.C., the government announced. Much of the discharged effluent was below pH of 4, which is harmful to fish. The Columbia River is home to mountain whitefish, rainbow trout, walleye, brook trout, bull trout, cutthroat trout, white sturgeon, sculpin, redside shiner, and other fish. The river is the largest river in the Pacific Northwest region of North America.
In the announcement from Environment and Climate Change Canada, it was noted that Teck Metals failed to provide adequate training, proper protocols and procedures, and adequately functioning equipment.