Zellstoff-Celgar Pulp Mill in Castlegar has been found guilty of several charged related to a pollution spill from November of 2008.
Judge Lisa Mrozinksi delivered her verdict in Castlegar court on Feb. 16. She convicted the mill of depositing effluent that was lethal to trout in the Columbia River. She also found the company guilty on two other counts related to their permitted effluent levels.
“Celgar submitted that though it exercised all due diligence, it could not avoid having committed these offences,” said the judge in her summary. “I am not satisfied on the evidence that Celgar has discharged its onus with regard to the defence of due diligence with respect to these counts and therefore I have convicted Celgar of these offences.
Though I found that Celgar failed to maintain its spill ponds in good working order contrary to ss. 120(6) and (7) of the EMA, I am satisfied Celgar exercised due diligence in attempting to avoid these offences and as such I have acquitted Celgar on counts 5 and 6 of the Information. Celgar is hereby convicted on counts 2, 3 and 4 of the Information as charged.”
The sentencing date for the case will be Mar. 30 in Nelson Provincial Court.
According to court documents, on November 18, 2008, material identified by Celgar as dilute weak black liquor in excess of 1000 m3 overflowed a tank and spilled into the mill’s general sewer. From there, it made its way directly into Celgar’s effluent treatment system (ETS). A much smaller amount, approximately 33 m3 spilled over a roadway at the mill. Some of that spill material entered the Columbia River. Celgar reported the spill on November 18, and took the steps necessary to contain the spilled material in the River.
Celgar admitted that on November 20, 21, 23, 24 and 25, its treated effluent exceeded its prescribed TSS permit level of 6000 kg/day.
Calls from Castlegar News to Celgar were not returned.