The Prince Rupert Port Authority was found guilty of conducting an open burn of prohibited materials contrary to the provincial Open Burning Smoke Control Regulation (OBSCR).
The B.C. Ministry of Environment laid three charges against the Prince Rupert Port Authority (PRPA) for burning treated wood for five days on Ridley Island in June 2017.
“The Prince Rupert Port Authority appreciates the work and time Judge Mrozinski spent on this case, and will be taking time to further consider [Mrozinski’s] findings and reasons for the decision. PRPA is committed to ensuring that impacts to the environment are considered and mitigated in all aspects of its operations,” stated the Port.
On June 23, 2017, the first full day of the burn, several residents of Port Edward felt they were experiencing adverse effects from the fire.
Witnesses testified the burn pile was the largest they had seen and reported symptoms ranging from a sore throat, difficulty breathing, irritated eyes, nausea and gagging, and detecting a chemical odour from the burn. The fire burned for some six days before PRPA extinguished it
Several witnesses identified the odour as creosote. PRPA said the material was mistakenly classified as organic waste suitable for burning.
In addition to the treated wood or pilings from the Odin Dock, part of the burn pile included other material such as concrete, re-bar, sheet metal, metal pipe, angle iron, plastic drainage pipe, other assorted plastics, signage and at least one small electrical box. The Crown submitted that all of the material could never lawfully be incinerated in an open burn.
PRPA was charged with three counts contrary to provincial environmental legislation.
In Count 1, the Crown charged that PRPA unlawfully caused air contaminants to be introduced into the environment produced by the open burning of prohibited materials. Count 2 charged that PRPA burned prohibited material contrary to the province’s OBSCR. Count 3 charged that PRPA allowed smoke to release from the open burn for more than 72 hours in what is known as a Category A area, also contrary to the OBSCR.
PRPA plead not guilty to all three counts, was acquitted of Count 1 and 3, but found guilty on Count 2.
In defence of the charges, PRPA claimed that as an agent of the federal crown, they were not bound by the provincial provisions.
“I find PRPA was not acting as a crown agent when it authorized the open burning of prohibited material, contrary to the OBSCR, nor is it appropriate to stay this charge on the grounds of officially induced error,” stated the judge in the oral reasons for sentencing.
No penalty has been issued yet. The case next appears before court in March.
Jenna Cocullo | Journalist
Send Jenna email
Like the The Northern View on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter