October 9/2003

Moncton Times & Transcript 

Moncton dump trial adjourned indefinitely
by Rod Allen

The trial of a New Brunswick consulting firm and its chief engineer on charges of polluting the Petitcodiac River has been adjourned indefinitely pending decision on a defence motion to dismiss the charges. Yesterday morning, provincial court Judge Yvette Finn instructed opposing counsel to submit written arguments on the motion introduced by defence lawyer Robert Kenny on Monday – by Oct. 31.

She also set the afternoon of Nov. 10 for a conference call on the briefs for herself, Kenny and Crown prosecutor Paul Adams.

Also on Nov. 10, Finn said she will set a date for her decision on the motion.

Last Friday, Adams rested his case against Gemtec Inc. and engineer Robert Lutes after calling 17 witnesses.

Environment Canada investigator Gary Greene has charged both parties under the federal Fisheries Act with polluting the Petitcodiac River by presenting an inadequate closure plan to the City of Moncton for the old municipal dump located on the banks of the Petitcodiac River.

Crown witnesses have testified that the dump – decommissioned in 1993 with the opening of the new regional landfill north of the city – has consequently been excreting toxic leachate into the river system ever since.

But on Monday, Kenny moved for dismissal of all charges based on the federal statute of limitations, as voiced in this case under section 82 of the federal Fisheries Act which states the Crown must undertake judicial proceedings within two years of an alleged offence being committed.

Kenny said the Crown has been aware of complaints about the dump since 1997 but did not proceed to trial until 2003.

Adams argues adversely that the offence is continuous, and the charges which describe an offence occurring between July of 2000 and November, 2002 are well within the statute’s two-year limitation.

If Finn upholds Kenny’s motion the trial is over and both accused parties walk away. Should she rule for the Crown, she will subsequently set a date for resumption of proceedings.

Last month the City of Moncton pleaded guilty to a similar charge, was ordered to pay a total of $35,000 in fines and levies and was ordered to fix leakage problems at the dump at a cost to tax payers estimated between $500,000 and $700,000.