Teck Coal Limited to Pay $60 Million for Fisheries Act Violations
Fernie (British Columbia) – March 26, 2021 – Teck Coal Limited was sentenced today to fines and monetary orders totalling $60 million after pleading guilty in the Provincial Court of British Columbia to two counts of unlawfully depositing a deleterious substance into water frequented by fish contrary to s. 36(3) of the Fisheries Act, thereby committing an offence contrary to s. 40(2) of the Act.
In an Agreed Statement of Facts filed with the Court, the company admitted that between January 1, 2012, and December 31, 2012, it deposited coal mine waste rock leachate containing high levels of selenium into the Upper Fording River and Clode Pond. Selenium can be toxic to fish at high concentrations, causing higher incidences of mortality or deformities in fry. Teck Coal Limited also admitted to depositing coal mine waste rock leachate containing elevated levels of calcium and carbonate under certain pH and carbon dioxide conditions causing calcite precipitation. Calcite can bind rocks and gravel together, adversely affecting the quality of fish habitat.
The joint submission on sentence recognized that since 2012, Teck Coal Limited has worked to implement recommendations to address the problem of selenium release, including the evaluation and piloting of water treatment and other technologies. From 2011 to the end of 2020, they spent approximately $986 million on water quality-related measures. They provided significant cooperation in the investigation of the offences.
Furthermore, on October 29, 2020, Environment and Climate Change Canada issued a Direction under the Fisheries Act to Teck Coal Limited setting out pollution reduction measures to be taken, which the company has estimated will cost approximately $350 – 400 million over and above Teck Coal Limited’s existing commitments to address water quality under its provincial permits.
After accepting the joint sentencing submission, the Court sentenced Teck Coal Limited to the fines and monetary orders which are payable by March 26, 2022.
“The total monetary payment is the largest ever imposed for offences under the Fisheries Act,” said prosecutor Alexander Clarkson. “The significant impact of both the penalty and the direction signal to entities large and small that there are serious consequences to depositing deleterious amounts of selenium and calcite.”
The Public Prosecution Service of Canada is a national organization responsible for prosecuting offences under federal jurisdiction in a manner that is free of any improper influence and that respects the public interest. The PPSC is also responsible for providing prosecution-related advice to law enforcement agencies across Canada.
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