Diesel spill at Northwest Territories diamond mine results in $350,000 fine
July 25, 2022 – Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
The Government of Canada is committed to protecting the health and safety of Canadians and our environment. The Government enforces laws that protect Canada’s air, water, and natural environment and we take this responsibility very seriously.
On July 25, 2022, De Beers Canada, Inc. was sentenced to pay $350,000, in Yellowknife Territorial Court, Northwest Territories, after pleading guilty to one offence under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA), in violation of the Storage Tank Systems for Petroleum Products and Allied Petroleum Products Regulations, subsection 2.1(1). The fine will be directed to the Government of Canada’s Environmental Damages Fund to support projects that benefit the natural environment.
In December 2017, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) enforcement officers responded to a report of a diesel spill at the Snap Lake Mine. The diamond mine, now non-operational, is located on the Canadian tundra just south of the Arctic Circle, about 220 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife. An investigation by ECCC revealed that up to 1125 litres of diesel spilled during a fuel transfer between two above ground storage tanks.
As a result of this conviction, the company’s name 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.
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The purpose of the Storage Tank Systems for Petroleum Products and Allied Petroleum Products Regulations is to protect Canada’s environment and the health of Canadians by reducing the risk of contaminating soil and groundwater from spills and leaks from storage tank systems for petroleum products and allied petroleum products.
In this case, by spilling diesel from above ground storage tanks, De Beers Canada, Inc. contravened subsection 2.1(1) of the Storage Tank Systems for Petroleum Products and Allied Petroleum Products Regulations. The Regulation states that a person must not release — or permit or cause any release of — a petroleum product or allied petroleum product, in liquid form in the environment, from a storage tank system.
In 2014, the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, through its national task force on storage tanks, published an Environmental Code of Practice for Aboveground and Underground Storage Tank Systems Containing Petroleum and Allied Petroleum Products. Its primary purpose is to promote environmentally sound management of petroleum and allied petroleum product storage tank systems by applying uniform performance standards throughout Canada.
Created in 1995, the Government of Canada’s Environmental Damages Fund helps to ensure that good follows environmental harm by using fines from environmental violations to support projects that restore the environment and conserve wildlife and habitats. The Fund receives and redirects the money from court penalties and settlements, usually investing in areas where the environmental damage occurred.
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