A fish farm operator is facing a $500,000 fine, after a mishap at one of its facilities resulted in hundreds of litres of diesel spilling into waters east of Vancouver Island.
A Nov. 30 court ruling dives into the details.
Back in March 2017, a Cermaq employee at the now decommissioned farm, located near the Burdwood Islands in Raleigh Passage, attempted to transfer fuel from the main tank to a smaller one.
However, they left it unattended, and after going to bed, woke up to find diesel had overflowed into the ocean, the B.C. Provincial Court ruling states.
According to the Coast Guard, it was an estimated 522 litres.
Cermaq, the Ministry of Environment, the Coast Guard and two neighbouring First Nations worked together on clean-up response, which took seven days and cost Cermaq around $885,000.
Judge Catherine Ann Crockett finds that the company accepted responsibility and is “sincerely remorseful,” while noting the Crown “has not proven harm and the potential for harm was low.”
“It is simply not possible to measure the impact of the marine diesel on all organisms,” Crockett wrote. “No one observed any dead fish, including the salmon in the pens. The amount of harmful substances in organisms such as clams quickly dissipated to the point there was no health risk for consumers.”
But the spill still goes against the Fisheries Act.
The Crown sought a fine of $1,400,000, and Cermaq proposed to pay $250,000. However, Crockett ultimately found $500,000 was an “appropriate” amount.
The company has also been ordered to post the judge’s ruling to its website for 90 days.