Government of Nunavut ordered to pay $100,000 fine for Rankin Inlet diesel fuel spill into Hudson Bay
April 25, 2022 – Iqaluit, Nunavut – Environment and Climate Change Canada
The Government of Canada is committed to protecting the health, safety and environment of Canadians. Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) enforces several laws that protect Canada’s air, water and natural environment, and we take pollution incidents and threats to the environment very seriously.
On April 14, 2022, at the Nunavut Court of Justice, the Government of Nunavut was ordered to pay $100,000 after pleading guilty to one offence under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA), in violation of subsection 2.1(1) of the Storage Tank Systems for Petroleum Products and Allied Petroleum Products Regulations. The fine will be directed to the Government of Canada’s Environmental Damages Fund to support projects that benefit the natural environment.
In addition to the fine, the Court issued a number of court orders to prevent a similar incident from occurring in the future. The Government of Nunavut is required to:
- evaluate all buildings owned by the Government of Nunavut’s Community and Government Services Property and Asset Management Division that have federally regulated storage tank systems in order to identify all potential indoor and outdoor drains to the environment;
- provide a report to ECCC demonstrating all the mitigation measures they have taken; and
- disclose the circumstances of the incident to Rankin Inlet residents, ensuring that all community members who may have been adversely affected by the release are aware of the details of the release, potential impacts on the environment and what steps have been taken to prevent a recurrence.
In April 2020, ECCC enforcement officers responded to information received through the Northwest Territories/Nunavut spill reporting website that indicated a fuel release in the mechanical room of Maani Ulujuk Ilinniarvik High School in Rankin Inlet. Officers conducted a thorough investigation of the spill incident and found that the spill was the result of human error in the manual transfer of fuel from a CEPA-regulated storage tank system. Fuel began to overflow from the internal day tank in the mechanical room on the afternoon of April 16, 2020, and continued to spill until the morning of April 17, 2020, when it was reported. Approximately 18,400 litres of diesel fuel made its way into the Hudson Bay.
- ECCC enforcement officers conduct inspections and investigations under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999. They strive to ensure that organizations and individuals comply with the Act and its regulations.
- The purpose of the Storage Tank Systems for Petroleum Products and Allied Petroleum Products Regulations is to reduce the risk of contaminating soil and groundwater due to spills and leaks of petroleum products from storage tank systems.
- 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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