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Gold mine's failure to manage water levels and treatment processes leads to penalties under Fisheries Act
February 25, 2016 – Thunder Bay, Ontario
On February 22, 2016, Wesdome Gold Mines Ltd. was fined $175,000 in the Ontario Court of Justice after pleading guilty to contraventions of the Fisheries Act related to the deposit of substances harmful to fish in fish-bearing waters. Of the total fine, $131,250 will be directed to the Environmental Damages Fund with the remaining $43,750 to be directed to the court.
A joint investigation conducted by Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change determined that Wesdome Gold Mines Ltd. had deposited effluent deleterious to fish and had failed to take reasonable measures to prevent the deposit. The company also failed to report the incidents in accordance with the Fisheries Act.
Between January 1, 2012, and May 7, 2013, the Tailings Management Area of the Eagle River Mill, owned by Wesdome Gold Mines Ltd., experienced episodes of high water levels, which led to the uncontrolled flow of effluent into nearby fish-bearing water, Miron Creek. Some effluent overflows contained levels of cyanide and metals that are harmful to fish. The evidence gathered in the investigation indicated that the incidents were caused by the company’s failure to properly manage water levels and key treatment processes within its facilities. Upon discovery of the uncontrolled flooding of the Tailings Management Area, Wesdome failed to notify without delay the Spills Action Centre of the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change.
In addition to the $175,000 penalty related to federal offences, the company was ordered to pay an additional $175,000 related to provincial offences, following charges laid by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change.
As a result of this conviction, the company’s name will be added to the Environmental Offenders Registry.
- Environment and Climate Change Canada is responsible for the administration and enforcement of the pollution prevention provisions of the Fisheries Act.
- 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 projects that will benefit our natural environment.
- The Environmental Offenders Registry contains information on convictions of corporations obtained under environmental legislation enforced by Environment and Climate Change Canada and Parks Canada Agency, for offences committed since June 18, 2009, when the Environmental Enforcement Act received Royal Assent. This tool allows the media and the public to search for corporate convictions using the name of the corporation, its home province, the province where the offence occurred, or the legislation under which the conviction was obtained.
- Environment and Climate Change Canada has created a free subscription service to help Canadians stay current with what the Government of Canada is doing to protect our natural environment.
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Hon. Catherine McKenna Environment and Climate Change Canada Nature and Environment
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