A Surrey provincial court judge has fined a Vancouver-based company $2.8 million for polluting two fish-bearing creeks during construction boring work.
Michels Canada Co. was ordered to pay the fine after pleading guilty to two charges laid under the federal Fisheries Act.
The charges came as a result of deposits of drilling fluid and sediment-laden waters into Coquitlam’s Cape Horn Creek Aug. 22, 2017, and Surrey’s Quibble Creek Sept. 2, 2017.
At the time of the Coquitlam incident, Michels Canada Co. was the head contractor responsible for horizontal directional boring operations in Coquitlam.
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 are not an option. During such drilling processes, drilling fluid, typically composed of water and clay, circulates through the tunnel.
In the Coquitlam case, 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.
In the Surrey case, 533 dead fish were found.
Environment and Climate Change Canada said the creeks contain species including rainbow trout, cutthroat trout and coho salmon.
“Coastal cutthroat trout are a species of concern and designated ‘at risk,’” the department said.
Environmental enforcement officers 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 harmful, to fish, a violation of the Fisheries Act.
The fines, due Feb. 6, will be directed to the federal government’s Environmental Damages Fund to be used to support projects with positive environmental impacts.
The company’s name will be added to the Environmental Offenders Registry, which contains information on convictions of corporations registered for offences committed under certain federal environmental laws.