Failure of Treatment System Results in $900,000 Fine
On April 19, 2018 the Mackenzie Pulp Mill Corporation (“Mackenzie Mill”) pled guilty, in the Provincial Court of British Columbia, to violating the provisions of the Fisheries Act. The violation related to the deposit of a deleterious substance on two occasions into water frequented by fish. The charges related to incidents in July 2014 and September 2016 when effluent coming from the mill was found to be harmful to fish. Specifically, the Mackenzie Mill leaked effluent into British Columbia’s Williston Lake.
Mackenzie Mill is located in Mackenzie, British Columbia, employs approximately 250 people and produces 240,000 ADMT bleached pulp annually. The pulp produced at the Mackenzie Mill is unique in that it is from white spruce, lodge pole pine and alpine fir, all species that thrive in the northern climate. The Mackenzie Mill was constructed in 1972 and modernized in 1996.
Environment and Climate Change Canada investigated the July 2014 and September 2016 incidents and discovered that Mackenzie Mill’s treatment system had not properly treated the effluent prior to its discharge. The discharge of the effluent was found to be due to improper management.
The company was ordered to pay a penalty of $900,000. This penalty will be directed to the federal Environmental Damages Fund. The fine is set to be used for the conservation of fish or fish habitat in the Omineca region of British Columbia.
Environment Canada and Climate Change also ordered the Mackenzie Mill to conduct an independent audit of its operations in order to prevent future incidents from occurring. The Environmental Enforcement Directorate, Regional Director, explained the audit: “It’s done by a third party at the expense of the mill; once that audit is done, they produce a report and they give that to Environment Canada so we can then consider it in future events as well as we [Environment Canada] can consider it when we go and do our periodic compliance checks at the mill.”
The Mackenzie Pulp Mill Corporation will also be added to the Environmental Offenders Registry.