Engineering firm Keller Foundations Ltd.’s construction activities have led to a $1 million fine after discharging concrete leachate into groundwater that flowed into British Columbia’s Larson Creek.
In April of 2018, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) environmental enforcement officers were notified of dead fish in Larson Creek. The investigation revealed 85 Cutthroat Trout had died due to the construction site’s discharge in violation of subsection 36(3) of the Fisheries Act.
In March 2023, Keller was ordered to pay a total penalty of $1 million after pleading guilty in the provincial court of British Columbia, said ECCC in a press release.
In the press release, federal officials said the discharged concrete leachate had elevated pH levels harmful to fish. The creek also contains Rainbow Trout and Skamania Trout.
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Keller’s team had been contracted by the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to complete concrete work on an overpass.
According to a review of the scene by Golder Associates Ltd., prepared for the Ministry of Transportation, the incident may have resulted from washing or pressure testing a batch plant system used to formulate a grout mixture and supply pressurized grout for a jet mixing operation.
“Although it was 11 days after the event, a thin hard crust of cementitious material was observed on the stream bed surface, at the downstream end of the culvert,” stated Golder’s review.
Golder also noted that the contractor did not have pH monitoring equipment on site.
The report further states that lethal levels of alkaline pH for salmonids occur in the mid-9 range and at a pH of 10. Standing water tested at the site had a pH of more than 11.
“While the contractor was of the view that the water used was clean, water originating from the local potable water supply used within a clean system. The contractor did not measure the pH of the water discharged into the pit or the pH of the water that had contacted the grout spoils,” the report found.
Volunteers from the West Vancouver Streamkeepers Society noticed the dead fish and tracked the pollution to its source. The incident was then reported to federal officials.
Keller has since been added to the Environmental Offenders Registry.
Related Professional Development Course
Attend “Water & Wastewater Regulation and Compliance” on May 11th to learn more about the regulatory framework around managing and troubleshooting common water and wastewater issues at the 2023 CANECT Environmental Compliance and Due Diligence Training Event. May 9-11, 2023 in Vaughan, Ontario. Visit www.canect.net for more information.