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Edson coal mine ordered to pay $1M+ after 2011 spills

Sherritt International Corporation, which operates a coal mine near Edson, was fined more than a million dollars after pleading guilty to three counts of contravening the Fisheries Act.

Sherritt was sentenced to pay $1,050,000, of which $990,000 will be directed to the Environmental Damages Fund. As a result of this conviction, the company’s name will be added to the Environmental Offenders Registry.

The Coal Valley Mine, which was owned by Sherritt from 2001 to 2014, is an open-pit coal mine located 90 kilometres south of Edson. According to a release from Environment and Climate Change Canada, on August 3, 2012, ECCC enforcement officers visited the mine in response to a spill report, and they determined that effluent being deposited from a waste-water pond was deleterious to fish.

They subsequently issued a direction under the Fisheries Act, which resulted in the deposit being stopped. However further investigation by ECCC determined that there were two previous releases of deleterious effluent from waste-water ponds, on July 27, 2011.

ECCC is responsible for the administration and enforcement of the pollution prevention provisions of the Fisheries Act, which prohibit the deposit of deleterious substances into water frequented by fish.

The releases went into tributaries of the Athabasca River, including the Erith River portions, which are identified by the Government of Alberta as “ecologically significant habitat” for Athabasca rainbow trout, a species at risk.

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