A line of dead vegetation next to CN’s rail line near the Skeena River prompted Luanne Roth to notify the Ministry of Environment. (Photo submitted by T. Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation)

Glyphosate residue found on dead leaves next to CN tracks

The province continues to investigate CN Rail’s use of herbicide along the Skeena River

The investigation continues into CN Rail’s use of herbicide along its tracks that skirt the Skeena River in sections from Prince Rupert to Terrace.

Several people noted the line of dead vegetation along the tracks in September, including Luanne Roth, a spokesperson for T. Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation based in Prince Rupert. The environmentalist group sampled some of the leaves in the area around the tracks and discovered glyphosate residue.

“The leaves were sampled directly overhanging salmon bearing waters, while there is a general five meter pesticide free buffer requirement in B.C. Based on the amount of dead vegetation I saw adjacent to and overhanging the water along the hundred kilometer stretch, I believe that a tremendous amount of herbicide likely entered the water, putting fish at risk,” Roth said in an email.

READ MORE: Province investigates complaints on CN’s use of herbicide next to the Skeena

The Ministry of Environment also completed its inspections and has informed CN and its contractor of the results.

“Due to the nature of the non-compliance, the case has been referred to the Conservation Officer Service for further investigation,” said David Karn, media relations for the Ministry of Environment, in an email.

CN Rail spokesperson, Kate Fenske, said the company is continuing to work with the ministry on its ongoing inspection.

“Glyphosate is an ingredient in VP480, a product registered and permitted under the federal Pest Control Products Act…The vegetation management was done by a licensed contractor trained in the proper handling and application of these products, which includes respecting buffer zones next to environmentally-sensitive features,” Fenske said.

But if Skeena fish have been exposed by glyphosate or glyphosate-containing herbicides, an aquatic toxicology expert from Simon Fraser University, Chris Kennedy, reported to T. Buck Suzuki that fish could experience changes to their ability to smell, micro and macroscopic changes to their tissues and possible mutations to their blood.

The province can’t comment further on potential consequences for CN or the contractor until the investigation is complete. But Karn linked the ministry’s Compliance and Enforcement Policy and Procedure, stating that there are several possible options for enforcement.

 

shannon.lough@thenorthernview.com 

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