Site C contractor Peace River Hydro Partners will pay a $1.1 million fine after pleading guilty in Fort St. John Provincial Court on July 31 to one charge of depositing a deleterious substance into water frequented by fish.
In direct contravention of the federal Fisheries Act, the charge stems from an investigation led by Environment and Climate Change Canada enforcement officers into the discharge of 3,300 cubic metres of contaminated drainage water into the Peace River on September 9 and 10 in 2018.
They discovered that during a high rainfall event, water management infrastructure at Site C had insufficient capacity to treat additional drainage, with the contractor deciding to release a mix of treated and untreated drainage into the river.
The contaminated drainage had a high concentration of metals and low pH acidity, but after a sample of drainage water was taken on September 9, 2018, it was determined it contained lethal amounts of aluminum for fish.
The $1.1 million will be directed to the Government of Canada’s Environmental Damages Fund to support positive environmental projects, and Peace River Hydro Partners will be added to the Environmental Offenders Registry.
The registry is a record of corporations convicted for offences committed under certain federal environmental laws.
The Peace River is home to 33 species of fish, including Rainbow Trout, Walleye, Bull Trout, Cutthroat Trout, Mountain Whitefish, Sculpin, Red side Shiner, Spot tail Shiner, and more.
West-slope Cutthroat Trout and Bull Trout are considered species of special concern by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada and provincially blue-listed as a species of special concern. Furthermore, Spot tail Shiner are provincially red-listed as endangered and threatened by extinction.