Nanaimo's Harmac pulp mill penalized for 2013 spill

Friday, May 27, 2016

Harmac Pacific has been slapped with a $135,000 penalty for an untreated effluent spill into the Northumberland Channel.

Nanaimo Forest Products Ltd., which operates under the trade name Harmac Pacific, has been ordered to pay a $135,000 penalty for an untreated pulp and paper effluent spill into the channel between Duke Point and Gabriola Island in 2013.

A press release from Environment and Climate Change Canada says Harmac Pacific experienced a power outage June 26, 2013, resulting in an estimated 3.75 million litres of untreated effluent being spilled into the Northumberland Channel for about 90 minutes.

The company pleaded guilty April 8 in B.C. provincial court to one offence for contravening subsection 36(3) of the Fisheries Act, the release states, and sentenced to pay $135,000  – $130,000 of which will be directed to the Environmental Damages Fund.

The fund directs dollars received as a result of fines, court orders and voluntary payments to projects that benefit the natural environment.

Harmac will also be added to the Environmental Offenders Registry, which contains the names of corporations convicted of offences under certain federal environmental laws.

Levi Sampson,  president of Harmac Pacific, said the company takes full responsibility for the event that occurred three years ago, but is pleased the funding is going toward local habitat improvement on the Nanaimo River as a result.

“I can say that on that day we had multiple layers of back-up systems available, but we experienced a power failure and that created set of unprecedented circumstances that caused the event,” he said.

Sampson said following the event Harmac Pacific conducted a detailed investigation and upgraded its systems to prevent any future reoccurrence.

“We’ve had a good track record in the history of our company and we hope just to continue that going forward,” he said.


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