$2.5 million in fines issued in relation to large diesel spill

In the latest of a string of federal environmental prosecutions leading to significant fines against corporate offenders, Canadian National Railway Company (“CN”) has been fined $2.5 million after pleading guilty to committing a number of infractions under the Fisheries Act and under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (“CEPA”).

The charges relate to a spill of diesel from a non-compliant oil-water separator and fuel storage system at a fueling station located in Edmonton, Alberta. The spilled diesel entered into a storm sewer and, subsequently, the North Saskatchewan River.

Among other offences, CN pled guilty and was convicted of depositing a deleterious substance into fish-bearing water (a violation under the Fisheries Act) as well as of using of a centrifugal pump to transfer oil-contaminated water and failing to remove single-walled underground steel piping (violations under CEPA).

CN was also fined an additional $125,000 under Alberta’s Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act.

Environment and Climate Change Canada has been increasingly active in recent years in enforcing the Fisheries Act. The enforcement activities have led to a number of convictions with large fines.