The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.
The enforcement action Environment Canada took Thursday against Vale Canada Ltd. is very rare in Canada, says a spokeswoman for a mining watchdog group.
Environment Canada enforcement officers, with support from Royal Canadian Mounted Police, executed a search warrant at Vale’s engineering building Thursday. The warrant was part of an active Environment Canada investigation that began in November 2012, said Nathalie Huneault of Environment Canada.
The investigation relates to alleged violations of the general prohibition in the Fisheries Act, which prohibits the deposit of substances that are deleterious to fish into water frequented by fish, she said. Huneault said Environment Canada couldn’t comment further because the matter is under investigation.
Vale spokeswoman Angie Robson said Environment Canada was on site Thursday “collecting information related to alleged infractions under the Fisheries Act that allegedly occurred in 2012. Vale is co-operating fully in providing the information required.”
In a second statement Friday, Robson said Environment Canada was collecting information related to alleged 2012 violations under the Fisheries Act.
“According to their customary investigation practice, (Environment Canada) collected this information pursuant to a warrant. Vale co-operated fully in providing the information required, and Environment Canada is no longer on our site. There has been no impact to our operations,” said Robson.
She said the matter under investigation never posted a threat to health and safety. When the issue was identified in 2012, Vale immediately undertook measures to address it while communicating with Environment Canada, she said.
“We believed then, and believe now, that our actions were appropriate and responsible,” said Robson, adding she could not comment further because of the ongoing investigation.
Sources have told The Sudbury Star enforcement officers spent four hours at the building where Vale’s environmental division is located, on Highway 17 in Copper Cliff.
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