Michels Canada Co. fined $2.8 million for releasing harmful deposits into British Columba rivers

News release

December 8, 2022 – Surrey, British Columbia

Canadians value clean water and a sustainable environment. Environment and Climate Change Canada enforcement officers strive to ensure that businesses and individuals comply with the laws and regulations that protect Canada’s natural environment.

On December 6, 2022, Michels Canada Co. was ordered to pay a total of $2.8 million after pleading guilty to two charges laid under subsection 36(3) of the federal Fisheries Act at the Provincial Court of British Columbia in Surrey. The charges stem from the deposits of drilling fluid and sediment-laden waters into Cape Horn Creek in Coquitlam on August 22, 2017, and Quibble Creek in Surrey on September 2, 2017.

On August 22, 2017, Michels Canada Co. was the head contractor responsible for horizontal directional boring operations in Coquitlam, when drilling fluid and sediment-laden waters were released through the storm sewer system into Cape Horn Creek. Twenty dead fish were found in the creek following the release.

On September 2, 2017, the company was carrying out horizontal directional boring operations in Surrey, when there was a release through the storm sewer system of drilling fluid and sediment-laden waters into Quibble Creek. Following the release, 533 dead fish were found in this creek.   

Environmental enforcement officers conducted investigations into these incidents. Officers went onsite where they collected water samples, dead fish, and other evidence relating to the spills. Through testing, the deposits of drilling fluid and sediment-laden waters into Cape Horn Creek and Quibble Creek were determined to be deleterious, or harmful, to fish, which is a violation of subsection 36(3) of the Fisheries Act.

The fines will be directed to the Government of Canada’s Environmental Damages Fund and the money will be used to support projects that have a positive impact on the environment.

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.

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.

Quick facts

  • Horizontal directional boring is a construction method where a tunnel is drilled horizontally under waterways, railways, or roadways, when other more common methods such as excavating is not an option. During the drilling process, drilling fluid, which is typically composed of water and clay, circulates through the tunnel.

  • Cape Horn Creek flows into the Coquitlam River and downstream to the Fraser River, and Quibble Creek flows into the Serpentine River and downstream to the marine waters of Georgia Strait and the Pacific Ocean. These creeks are inhabited by salmonids year round, and the presence of juvenile salmonids in these creeks during the summertime low flow period and hot weather emphasizes the importance of this habitat. These creeks contain species including rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, and coho salmon. Coastal cutthroat trout are a species of concern and designated “at risk”.

  • Environment and Climate Change Canada is responsible for the administration and enforcement of the pollution prevention provisions of the Fisheries Act, which prohibit the deposit of deleterious substances into water frequented by fish.

  • Created in 1995, the Environmental Damages Fund is a Government of Canada program administered by Environment and Climate Change Canada. The Fund helps ensure that court-awarded penalties are used to repair environmental damage or benefit the environment. 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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Environment and Climate Change Canada
819-938-3338 or 1-844-836-7799 (toll-free)
media@ec.gc.ca

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