Guilty plea leads to $925,000 penalty for Obed Mountain Coal Mine spill Press Release by AER, June 9., 2017
Prairie Mines & Royalty ULC will be required to pay a total penalty of $925,000 as a result of a spill from a wastewater containment pond at the Obed Mountain Coal mine approximately 30 km east of Hinton.
The spill that occurred in October 2013 contaminated water and damaged the creek bed of two tributaries of the Athabasca River. The contaminated water subsequently flowed into the Athabasca River. The company pleaded guilty to one count under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act.
The total penalty includes a fine of $192,000 and a creative sentencing order to both pay $363,000 to fund a dam safety research project related to coal mine water storage, and pay $370,000 for an indigenous youth environmental education project.
Further information about the projects and the agreed statement of facts regarding the incident are available on the AER’s Compliance Dashboard.
The AER initially laid charges in October 2015 against Coal Valley Resources Inc. (CVRI) and its parent company Sherritt International Corporation operating as Sherritt Coal. CVRI has since been purchased by Westmoreland Coal Company and was subsequently amalgamated into Prairie Mines & Royalty ULC.
The AER continues to receive monthly and annual reports regarding the environmental monitoring and remediation of the impacts caused by the Obed Mountain Coal mine spill from the company as required by an environmental protection order (EPO) issued on November 19, 2013. The Obed Mountain Mine is being decommissioned and reclaimed by the mine’s current owner, Westmoreland Coal. The AER continues [????] to inspect both the mine site and the area that was impacted by the 2013 release that is currently being remediated.
In addition to the penalty under the EPEA, Prairie Mines & Royalty ULC has pleaded guilty to charges under the federal Fisheries Act. For further information on those charges, see the Government of Canada’s news release.
The Alberta Energy Regulator [has no public interest or public health mandate; the government removed public interest from the AER’s mandate in 2013] ensures the safe, efficient, orderly, and environmentally responsible development of hydrocarbon resources over their entire life cycle. This includes allocating and conserving water resources, managing public lands, and protecting the environment while providing economic benefits for all Albertans. [AER actions and lack of actions have cost Ernst the value of her home and property , rendering it unsellable, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal costs. Ernst is an Albertan and benefits not from AER’s slippery operations that include deregulation, propaganda, lies, law violations and enabling of hundreds of billions of dollars in industry’s liabilities, harms, pollution and abuses. Did Obed intentionally overload their waste to cause the breach so as to avoid decommission costs? Did Obed agree to bad publicity and lesser fine in exchange for dumping their toxic pollution into the river and later to be publicly used as a scape goat to con the public into believing “polluter pay” is enforced in Alberta? ]
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For more information, please contact:Ryan Bartlett, AER Public Affairs
Media line: 1-855-474-6356
Prairie Mines & Royalty Fined $4.5 Million For Contaminating Alberta River by Dan Healing, The Canadian Press, June 9, 2017, Huffington Post
HINTON, Alta. — A coal mining company has been handed almost $4.5 million in federal and provincial penalties for a spill from its tailings pond that fouled tributaries feeding the Athabasca River in Alberta.
An estimated 670 million litres of waste water gushed out of a broken earth berm at the Obed Mountain mine near Hinton, Alta., on Oct. 31, 2013.
Prairie Mines & Royalty — formerly known as Coal Valley Resources — pleaded guilty Friday in Hinton provincial court to two federal counts of violating the Fisheries Act and one charge under the provincial Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act.
The federal charges resulted in $3.5 million in penalties.
$1.1 million will create a fish habitat, recovery research fund
About $1.1 million is to be put into a trust to create a fish habitat and recovery research fund. Another $2.1 million is to go to the Environmental Damages Fund.
Prairie Mines was also ordered to pay $925,000 for the provincial conviction. That includes $363,000 to fund a dam safety research project related to coal mine water storage and $370,000 for an indigenous youth environmental education project.
Erin Eacott, a spokeswoman for the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, said on a conference call that the judge made clear the company is responsible to clean up damage.
“The judge ordered the accused to rehabilitate approximately five kilometres of the Upper Apetowun Creek, which is the creek that was most impacted by the release,” she said.
“The other part of the order was that Fisheries and Oceans Canada had to hire experts to help assess the impact of the significant release on fish habitat and what rehabilitation needs on the creek would be. The court ordered over $600,000 to Fisheries and Oceans Canada to reimburse for those costs.”
Westmoreland Coal, which now owns the mine, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In a news release, the Alberta Energy Regulator reported that the coal mine, about 30 kilometres east of Hinton in the foothills of western Alberta, is being decommissioned and reclaimed by its owner.
The regulator said it is regularly inspecting the mine site and the area that was damaged by the 2013 release.
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