Manitoba paper mill fined $1M for effluent release into river

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paper mill stock photo
In addition to the December fine, Canadian Kraft Paper Industries Limited has also been ordered by the court to conduct an independent environmental audit within 12 months of sentencing. Photo Credit: hxdyl, stock.adobe.com

A 2019 pipe leak has led to a $1-million fine for Canadian Kraft Paper Industries Limited, one of the largest fines ever handed down by a Manitoba court.

The company pleaded guilty to one charge under the federal Fisheries Act stemming from the incident at its pulp and paper mill in The Pas, Manitoba, which ultimately released some 181 million litres of acutely lethal effluent from the company’s treatment system into the Saskatchewan River over six days.

The pipe leak resulted in the release of 23,000 litres of black liquor — a byproduct of the paper manufacturing process — into the company’s mill effluent treatment system.

Environment and Climate Change Canada enforcement officers responded to the incident and collected samples, according to a statement from the ministry.

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In addition to the December fine, Canadian Kraft Paper Industries Limited has also been ordered by the court to conduct an independent environmental audit within 12 months of sentencing. Company officials must review their operations and make recommendations regarding the implementation of best available technology and best practices to prevent future leaks. 

The 2019 incident violates the authorization to deposit effluent that is set out in subsection 6(5) of the Pulp and Paper Effluent Regulations and is a contravention of subsection 36(3) of the Fisheries Act.

The Saskatchewan River is home to many species of fish, including the endangered lake sturgeon.

A report identifying the recommendations and actions must be provided to Environment and Climate Change Canada.

The fine will be directed to the federal Environmental Damages Fund and used to support projects that have a positive impact on the environment.

As a result of the conviction, the company’s name will be added to the Environmental Offenders Registry.

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