Hay River company fined $150K for fuel spill that reached river

A Hay River company has been fined $150,000 for a fuel spill that drained into the river the town is named after.

On Wednesday Hay River Mobile Home Park Ltd. pleaded guilty to violating a section of the Fisheries Act that prohibits depositing harmful substances in or around fish habitat, according to prosecutor Morgan Fane.

Hay River Mobile Home Park is a property holding company that is a subsidiary of the Rowes Group of Companies. Rowes Construction was also charged, but that charge was withdrawn.

Fane said that the circumstances that led to the spill were laid out in a statement of agreed facts. It happened three years ago and was the result of a malfunction in an old fuel truck stored on property owned by the Hay River Mobile Home Park.

After years of freezing and thawing while the truck sat idle, a filter used to separate water from fuel cracked. The fuel remaining in the tank then drained out.

Under 100 litres of fuel estimated to have reached river

The fuel flowed onto the banks of the Hay River. An unknown amount of it made it into the river. Photos of the sheen the spill left on the river were entered as evidence in the sentencing. An expert hired by Rowes estimated that between 3.3 litres and 79.1 litres of fuel made it into the river.

The crime of depositing deleterious substances into waters frequented by fish carries a wide range of penalties. Fines are based on the size of the company convicted. The Hay River Mobile Home Park is considered a small revenue corporation under the Fisheries Act because it has gross revenues of less than $5 million each year.

The Hay River Mobile Home Park was facing a minimum fine of $25,000. The maximum is $2 million.

With revenues of well over $5 million, if Rowe's Construction had been convicted it would have faced a minimum fine of $100,000 and a maximum of $4 million.

Fane said that, in addition to the $150,000 fine, Hay River Mobile Home Park is required to report the facts of the conviction to the K'atl'odeeche First Nation of Hay River.