Smoke from the controlled Ridley Island burn June 22-27, 2017. (Fred Oddson photo)

Port charged with burying burnt remains of treated wood

Burning the old dock on Ridley Island for five days in 2017 has led to four environmental charges

The B.C. Ministry of Environment has laid four charges against the Prince Rupert Port Authority for burning treated wood for five days on Ridley Island in June 2017.

While the charges were sworn in on July 4, the pre-trial conference is set to take place at the Prince Rupert courthouse on Dec. 19.

The complaint was made to the Terrace Conservation Office on June 26, 2017 after residents in Port Edward raised concerns about black smoke drifting over their community. Officer Tracy Walbauer said the investigation lasted until Aug. 1 after which Crown counsel reviewed the evidence, deciding whether or not to lay charges.

The maximum fine for the first two charges under the Environmental Management Act could be up to $1-million each. The first charge states the port authority “unlawfully introduced” waste or air contaminates by burning prohibited materials for five days, between June 22-27.

The second charge states that between June 26-27 the port authority unlawfully “introduced waste into the environment by burying the burnt remains of the ‘Odin’ dock and other burnt waste that was produced by a prescribed activity.”

The 80-year-old dock being burned may have been exposed to creosote, a toxic chemical used to prevent wood from rotting.

“Creosote is kind of like asbestos, it was a good idea at the time but very difficult to dispose of safely. More environmental regulations have come in to take into account that you can’t just dispose of it, you can’t bury it, you can’t burn it, there isn’t a good option for dealing with it either,” said Annie Booth, curriculum chair of environmental and sustainability studies at the University of Northern B.C.

Booth said it’s fairly expensive to dispose of the hazardous waste. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, it’s toxic to breathe in and long exposures can cause respiratory irritation. If creosote is buried it can leach into the soil.

“Any place you have soil and it rains, creosote will go into the soil and it will probably reach the water table,” Booth said.

The other two charges relate to violations of B.C.’s open burning smoke control regulations. One, treated lumber — a prohibited material — was burned, and two, the smoke release period exceeded 72-consecutive hours.

The Prince Rupert Port Authority apologized in July 2017 for how it handled the Ridley fire. In response to the charges the port authority stated: “The burn included material which was erroneously classified as organic. PRPA has acknowledged and apologized publicly to the community for its error. Following the identification of the error, PRPA has worked with the BC Ministry of Environment to conduct an investigation. The Ministry has elected to pursue charges related to this incident.”

The port authority, DP World and partners involved in the Fairview Terminal expansion project are also facing 10 fisheries violations for work carried out between 2014-2015 that caused serious harm to fish.

RELATED: Prince Rupert port and DP World faces 10 fisheries violations



shannon.lough@thenorthernview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Port of Prince RupertRidley Island

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

RCSCC 7 – Captain Cook is searching for new C.O.

Officer position will be vacant with CIC sailing away to different shores.

Police investigate July 2 homicide in Houston

Man succumbed to injuries at Pearson Road residence

Solidarity movement displayed in city

Prince Rupert locals demonstrated against

Canada Day investigation by RCMP

Female was transported to hospital with head injuries in Prince Rupert

Local restaurant, Fukasaku, awarded $10,000 grant

More than 1100 Canadian business applied for the relief grant

13 new B.C. COVID-19 cases, Langley Lodge outbreak ends

Health care outbreaks down to four, 162 cases active

Alberta health minister orders review into response after noose found in hospital in 2016

A piece of rope tied into a noose was found taped to the door of an operating room at the Grande Prairie Hospital in 2016

B.C.’s major rivers surge, sparking flood warnings

A persistent low pressure system over Alberta has led to several days of heavy rain

B.C.’s Indigenous rights law faces 2020 implementation deadline

Pipeline projects carry on as B.C. works on UN goals

‘Mind boggling’: B.C. man $1 million richer after winning Lotto 6/49 a second time

David O’Brien hopes to use his winnings to travel and of course keep playing the lottery

Community infrastructure funding announced for 24 Northern B.C. projects

Recipients include municipalities, First Nations and not-for-profits

B.C. teacher loses licence after sexual relationships with two recently-graduated students

The teacher won’t be allowed to apply for a teaching certificate until 2035

Lower Mainland teacher facing child pornography charges

Elazar Reshef, 52, has worked in the Delta School District

Most Read