A portion of the fine ($1.15 million) will be placed into a trust to be managed by the University of Alberta to create the Alberta East Slopes Fish Habitat and Native Fish Recovery Research Fund. A total of $2.15 million will be directed to the Environmental Damages Fund.
On October 31, 2013, a dike that was holding back a large volume of waste water at the Obed Mountain mine failed, resulting in more than 670 million liters of contaminated water and sediment (made up of coal, clay and sand) spilling into the Apetowun Creek and Plante Creek and additionally impacting the Athabasca River.
This case is an example of a successfully coordinated multiyear joint investigation by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and the province of Alberta.
Prairie Mines & Royalty ULC pleaded guilty to one count of carrying on a work, undertaking or activity that resulted in in the harmful alteration or disruption, or the destruction, of fish habitat in contravention of s.35(1) of the Fisheries Act; and one count of depositing or permitting the deposit of a deleterious substance of any type in water frequented by fish in contravention of s.36(3) of the Fisheries Act.
In addition to the penalties under the Fisheries Act, Prairie Mines & Royalty ULC has pleaded guilty to one count under Alberta’s Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act.