Canada’s Largest Environmental Penalty
On November 5, 2018 Irving Pulp & Paper (“Irving”) was ordered to pay a penalty in the amount of $3.5 million for three offences under the Federal Fisheries Act. The fine of $3.5 million represents one of the largest fines issued by the federal government relating to an environmental offence.
The fine was issued as a result of Irving releasing untreated effluent into the Saint John River for over the course of approximately 2 years between June 2014 and August 2016. No fish were killed or harmed by the discharge. Beginning in or around June 2014 up to August 2016, improperly treated and deleterious effluent was released from one of Irving’s three outfall structures. The outfall structures release directly into the Saint John River. The discharges were reported by Irving to Environment and Climate Change Canada as required by the Pulp and Paper Effluent Regulations.
The federal government also issued a direction to Irving under the Fisheries Act requiring that a plan be developed clearly identifying any interim measures and outlining the commissioning and implementation of a new effluent treatment system.
Irving has committed to investing a significant amount of funds into a new effluent treatment facility over the course of the next five years.
Approximately $2.34 million of the fine will be directed to the Government of Canada’s Environmental Damages Fund to be used on Saint john River projects. The remaining $1.16 million will be directed to the University of New Brunswick’s Canadian Rivers Institute to engage in scientific research and supporting projects relating to the conservation, protection, and restoration of Atlantic salmon in New Brunswick.
The Environmental Damages Fund is administered by Environment and Climate Change Canada. It was created in 1995 to provide a mechanism for directing funds received as a result of fines, court orders, and voluntary payments to priority projects that will benefit our natural environment.