Mining giant Sherritt International Corp. has pleaded guilty to three violations under the Fisheries Act for spills in 2011 and 2012 of potentially harmful wastewater into a tributary of the Erith River, part of the Athabasca River watershed.
The company was fined a total of $1,050,000, of which $990,000 will be paid to the Environmental Damages Fund, used for research and preservation of fish habitat.
“It’s a deterrent for any corporation when you have over a $1 million fine,” said Erin Eacott, counsel with the Public Prosecution Service of Canada. Eacott said had the company been charged after penalties under the Fisheries Act were substantially increased, it would have faced a much stiffer penalty.
No ‘slap on the wrist’
“This is a significant penalty,” Sherritt lawyer Brad Gilmour told the court. “This is is not a slap on the wrist.” The violations occurred at the Coal Valley Mine, 90 kilometres south of Edson.
In an agreed statement of facts entered into court Tuesday, Sherritt admitted to depositing half a million litres of mine wastewater from settling ponds into the Erith River.
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