City of Moncton and three others charged by Environment Canada
by Petitcodiac Riverkeeper
Enforcement Officers of Environment Canada’s Atlantic Region have laid charges under Section 36(3) of the federal Fisheries Act, relating to toxic leachate allegedly being discharged into a tributary of the Petitcodiac River from a decommissioned landfill owned by the City of Moncton.
Charges have been laid against the City of Moncton; Mr. Geoff Greenough, the Commissioner of Public Works for the City of Moncton; Gemtec Ltd., an engineering consulting firm; and Mr. Robert Lutes, an employee of Gemtec Ltd.
The charges allege that leachate samples from the decommissioned Moncton landfill are acutely lethal to fish, and that the leachate enters Jonathan Creek, a tributary of the Petitcodiac River. As well, it is alleged that the landfill closure plan selected by the City of Moncton was not in compliance with the Fisheries Act.
Environment Canada’s investigation was initiated as a result of evidence provided by the Petitcodiac Riverkeeper, a New Brunswick environmental group dedicated to protecting their watershed by enforcing compliance with Canada’s environmental laws. The group was assisted in its investigation by the Ontario-based Environmental Bureau of Investigation.
The announcement of these charges signals the first case in Atlantic Canada where a municipal government has been charged for allegedly violating Section 36(3) of the federal Fisheries Act, which prohibits the discharge of toxic substances into waterways frequented by fish, and the first case in Canada where an engineering consulting firm has been charged for allegedly producing recommendations which were not in compliance with the Fisheries Act.
Daniel LeBlanc, Executive Director of the Petitcodiac Riverkeeper commended Environment Canada for carrying out their investigation in accordance with their mandate. “The message that is being sent out today is that no one in Canada is above the law when it comes to complying with environmental regulations in this country, including people who give out advice that have enormous implications on our environment.”
“The other important message that we see is that government needs the help of citizen groups like ours, dedicated to patrolling and safeguarding our waterways, to ensure that environmental laws are enforced in all regions of this country”, concluded LeBlanc.
The four parties charged will make a first appearance in Provincial Court in Moncton on April 3, 2002.
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David Aggett, Environment Canada, Tel (902) 426-1925 Daniel LeBlanc, Petitcodiac Riverkeeper, Tel. (506) 388-5337 http://www.petitcodiac.org Mark Mattson, Environmental Bureau of Investigation, Tel. (416) 568-6036, http://www.e-b-i.net