Company sentenced to pay $3,500,000 for Obed Mountain mine spill

June 12, 2017 - Hinton, Alberta - Environment and Climate Change Canada

Prairie Mines & Royalty ULC (formerly known as Coal Valley Resources Inc.) pleaded guilty in Alberta Provincial Court on June 9, 2017, to two counts of violating the Fisheries Act. The Honourable Judge C.D. Gardner sentenced the company to pay monetary penalties totalling $3,500,000.

$1,150,000 of this sentence will be put into a trust to be managed by the University of Alberta to create the Alberta East Slopes Fish Habitat and Native Fish Recovery Research Fund. $2,150,000 will be directed to the Environmental Damages Fund.

On October 31, 2013, a dike that was holding back a large volume of waste water at  the Obed Mountain Mine failed, resulting in more than 670 million litres of contaminated water and sediment (made up of coal, clay and sand) spilling into the Apetowun Creek and Plante Creek and additionally impacting the Athabasca River.

This case is an example of a successfully coordinated multi-year joint investigation by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and the Province of Alberta.

Prairie Mines & Royalty ULC pleaded guilty to:

  • one count of carrying on a work, undertaking or activity that resulted in in the harmful alteration or disruption, or the destruction, of fish habitat in contravention of s.35(1) of the Fisheries Act; and,
  • one count of depositing or permitting the deposit of a deleterious substance of any type in water frequented by fish in contravention of s.36(3) of the Fisheries Act.

In addition to the penalties under the Fisheries Act, Prairie Mines & Royalty ULC has pleaded guilty to one count under Alberta’s Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act. For further information on that charge, see the Alberta Energy Regulator’s news release.

Quick Facts

  • 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.
  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada has the lead federal role in managing Canada's fisheries, protecting aquatic ecosystems and safeguarding its waters. The Department is responsible for the administration and enforcement of the Fisheries Act, with the exception of the pollution prevention measures.
  • The Alberta East Slopes Fish Habitat and Native Fish Recovery Research Fund will support research related to restoration of fish habitat with a particular focus on recovery of native fish populations in Alberta’s East Slopes.
  • The Environmental Damages Fund is administered by ECCC and was created in 1995 to provide a mechanism for directing funds received as a result of monetary penalties to priority projects that will benefit our environment.

Associated Link

Fisheries Act

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