NEWS

Imperial Oil fined $195K for environmental crimes

09/16/2011 02:15 EDT | Updated 11/16/2011 05:12 EST

Imperial Oil has agreed to pay a total of $195,000 for environmental violations at its facilities in Norman Wells, N.W.T.

The company pled guilty to three charges Thursday in a Yellowknife courtroom relating to two separate incidents.

In 2009, the company pumped a chemical, used to prevent pipes from rusting, in much higher concentrations than allowed. About 3,000 litres of the chemical ended up in the Mackenzie River.

In court, Imperial maintained that no one saw any sign of dead or dying fish as a result. But prosecutor Danielle Vaillancourt said the kind of mistakes that led to the spill could result in much worse damage.

"Even though there may not have been any harm observed, it's still a question of a failsafe in their system, where we want to send a general deterrent message to companies where these types of mistakes could have a serious impact on the environment," Vaillancourt said.

Imperial also pled guilty to doing scientific fishing without the appropriate licence last year. It was gathering small fish as part of environmental monitoring it was doing at Bosworth Creek, a water body near Norman Wells.

The company said that both violations were the result of honest mistakes and that it's made changes to prevent either from happening again.

Most of the money Imperial agreed to pay is earmarked for the preservation of fish habitat in the territory’s Sahtu region.

Imperial has wells, a processing plant and a power station in Normal Wells.

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