ArcelorMittal Canada Inc. and 7623704 Canada Inc., partners in a mining company that operates Mont-Wright mining complex, fined a total of $15 million for violating the Fisheries Act
June 13, 2022 – Montréal, Quebec
Canadians know the value of a healthy and safe environment. Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) enforcement officers strive to ensure that the public and businesses comply with the acts and regulations designed to protect Canada’s natural environment.
On June 10, 2022, ArcelorMittal Canada Inc. and 7623704 Canada Inc. were fined a total of $15 million by the Court of Quebec, at the Montréal courthouse. On October 15, 2021, ArcelorMittal Canada Inc. was found guilty of 93 charges and 7623704 Canada Inc. was found guilty of five charges for violating the Fisheries Act and Metal Mining Effluent Regulations (MMER). The conviction stemmed from incidents at the Mont-Wright mining complex in Fermont, Quebec, from May 25, 2011 to May 14, 2013.
On March 6, 2013, the ECCC Enforcement Branch opened an investigation into a November 2012 dike rupture at the Mont-Wright mining complex. The investigation also covered 33 (unauthorized) deposits out of the normal course of events of toxic substances made in water frequented by fish between May 25, 2011 and May 14, 2013, in violation of subsection 36(3) of the Fisheries Act. The criminal investigation resulted in the filing of charges on July 19, 2017.
The investigation also revealed that ArcelorMittal Canada Inc. had not declared all the results of its effluent monitoring tests, as required by the MMER. The firm concealed from the authorities a number of (unauthorized) deposits out of the normal course of events of toxic substances. As a result, ECCC had an inaccurate and altered overview of the situation. ArcelorMittal Canada Inc. was therefore found guilty of having made false and misleading statements to ECCC officers, in violation of subsection 63(1) of the Fisheries Act.
ArcelorMittal Canada Inc. and 7623704 Canada Inc. were also found guilty of failing to conduct the testing required during deposits out of the normal course of events. The firms thus violated paragraph 14(1)(b) and subsection 17(1) of the MMER. In addition, ArcelorMittal Canada Inc. was found guilty of failing to submit quarterly effluent monitoring reports within the prescribed timeframe, in violation of subsection 21(1) of the MMER.
As a result of this conviction, both firms will be added to the Environmental Offenders Registry, which contains information on firms that have been convicted for violations of certain federal environmental laws.
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ArcelorMittal Canada Inc. was fined $14,400,000 and 7623704 Canada Inc. was fined $600,000. Both firms are partners in ArcelorMittal Mining Canada, a general partnership.
The waters where the deposits took place, lakes Saint-Ange and Webb and their tributaries, flow into the Moisie River, which is a proposed aquatic reserve at the provincial level. It is also one of the biggest Atlantic salmon rivers in North America.
Daphnia magna, a small freshwater crustacean of the suborder Cladocera, is used as a test organism. These water fleas are sensitive to a broad range of aquatic contaminants and are used in many countries to test toxicity.
The Metal Mining Effluent Regulations were amended in 2018 and renamed the Metal and Diamond Mining Effluent Regulations.
ECCC is responsible for administering and enforcing the pollution prevention provisions of the Fisheries Act, which prohibit the deposit of deleterious substances in water frequented by fish.
Created in 1995, the Environmental Damages Fund is a Government of Canada program administered by ECCC. The Fund allows for court imposed fines and penalties to be used for projects with positive environmental impacts.
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