Coal Mine Fined $4.5 Million For Provincial And Federal Offences

Author:Ms Paula Lombardi
Profession:Siskinds LLP

A coal mining company was fined approximately $4.5 million in federal and provincial penalties as a result of a spill from its tailings pond into tributaries flowing into the Athabasca River in Alberta. Prairie Mines & Royalty ULC (formerly known as Coal Valley Resources Inc.) pled guilty in Alberta Provincial Court on June 9, 2017, to two counts of violating the Federal Fisheries Act and one count under the provincial Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act.

An estimated 670 million litres of wastewater discharged into the Apetowun Creek and Plante Creek resulting in impacts to the Athabasca River when the earthen berm broke at the Obed Mountain mine on October 31, 2013. The contaminated wastewater and sediment consisted of coal, clay and sand.

The Honourable Judge C.D. Gardner sentenced the company to pay monetary penalties totaling $3,500,000 for the federal charges. Approximately, $1,150,000 of the fine 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. While approximately $2,150,000 will be directed to the Environmental Damages Fund.

The provincial penalty resulted in a fine of an additional $925,000: $363,000 allocated to fund a dam safety research project related to coal mine water storage; and, $370,000 for an indigenous youth education project.

Prairie Mines & Royalty ULC pled guilty to the following federal offences:

one count of carrying on a work, undertaking or activity...

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