A contractor for Site C has been fined $1.1 million for releasing contaminated drainage water into the Peace River.
On July 31, Peace River Hydro Partners pleaded guilty in the Provincial Court of British Columbia in Fort St. John to one charge of depositing a deleterious substance into water frequented by fish, in contravention of the federal Fisheries Act.
The company was fined $1.1 million, which will be directed to the Government of Canada’s Environmental Damages Fund to support projects that have a positive impact on Canada’s natural environment. The charge stemmed from an investigation by Environment and Climate Change Canada enforcement officers into the discharge of 3,300 m³ of contaminated drainage water into the Peace River on September 9 and 10, 2018.
The investigation determined that, during a high rainfall event, the water management infrastructure at the Site C Clean Energy Project near Fort St. John, British Columbia, had insufficient available capacity to treat the additional drainage. A mix of treated and untreated drainage was released into the Peace River. The contaminated drainage water had a low pH (acidic) and a high concentration of metals. A sample of the drainage water collected on September 9, 2018, determined that it contained a concentration of aluminum that was acutely lethal to fish.
As a result of this conviction, Peace River Hydro Partners will be added to the Environmental Offenders Registry. The Registry contains information on convictions of corporations registered for offences committed under certain federal environmental laws.
The Peace River is considered “water frequented by fish”, as defined under the Fisheries Act. The river contains 33 species of fish, including Rainbow Trout, Walleye, Bull Trout, Cutthroat Trout, Mountain Whitefish, Sculpin, Redside Shiner, Spottail Shiner, etc.