Company fined $210,000 for discharge/spill into Columbia River B.C.

ROSSLAND, B.C. – November 6, 2013 – Teck Metals Ltd. was sentenced to pay $210,000 in British Columbia Provincial Court for offences under the federal Fisheries Act and the provincial Spill Reporting Regulation of the Environmental Management Act related to a release of sodium hydroxide into the Columbia River.

On March 5, 2011, approximately 350,000 litres of highly caustic effluent, which is deleterious to fish, was discharged into the Columbia River through an effluent system at Teck Metals in Trail, BC. The toxic release occurred following the disposal of a 50% sodium hydroxide solution into the plant’s effluent stream. The unlawful discharge was not reported to Environment Canada and the Provincial Emergency Program until several days after the incident.

Environment Canada and the British Columbia Ministry of Environment’s Conservation Officers Service conducted a joint investigation into this incident.

In total, Teck Metals Ltd. has been sentenced to pay $210,000 which has been allocated as follows:

  • $5,000 fine for the charge under the Fisheries Act;
  • $5,000 fine for the charge under the Spill Reporting Regulation of the Environmental Management Act;
  • $100,000 payable to the Environmental Damages Fund; and
  • $100,000 payable to the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation.

Money paid to the Environmental Damages Fund will fund projects specific to proper management and control of fisheries or fish habitat, or the conservation and protection of fish or fish habitat in the Kootenay River or Columbia River watersheds. A preference will be given to projects in the lower Columbia region (south from Nelson, British Columbia). The factors the court considered in sentencing included the culpability of the accused, prior record, acceptance of responsibility, damage to the environment, and deterrence.

The Environmental Damages Fund, which is administered by Environment Canada, was created in 1995 to provide a mechanism for directing funds received as a result of fines, court orders and voluntary payments for the repair of the actual harm done to the environment.

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