Yukon company must pay $60,000 environmental fine

·3 min read
Members of the public in Watson Lake, Yukon, noticed the pollution throughout 2019 and called the Turn in Poachers and Polluters (TIPP) line. The result for the company is a total of $60,000 in fines. (Philippe Morin/CBC - image credit)
Members of the public in Watson Lake, Yukon, noticed the pollution throughout 2019 and called the Turn in Poachers and Polluters (TIPP) line. The result for the company is a total of $60,000 in fines. (Philippe Morin/CBC - image credit)

A company out of Watson Lake, Yukon, says it "no longer works" with unnamed subcontractors who it says are responsible for actions which led to a $60,000 environmental fine.

Northern Enviro Services recently plead guilty to two charges under the Environment Act.

The charges date back to 2019 and are for the incorrect disposal of waste both by burning and other means.

An agreed statement of facts, obtained by CBC from Yukon's court system, describes the waste as "untreated brush or wood products mixed with other materials" as well as "miscellaneous litter and garbage."

The document lists four incidents of discarding waste and one incident of burning waste, all having occurred between January 2018 and March 2019.

No information is listed as to quantity of the waste, other than describing the action of burning "a pile of solid waste."

The pollution was witnessed and reported multiple times by members of the public in Watson Lake.

Yukon's Department of the Environment said the company did not have permits to dispose of solid waste by burning and says other waste was disposed of was in ways contrary to the Environment Act.

'I think this is a good message to send. We're trying to get companies to properly dispose of their solid waste and get permits where required,' said Aaron Koss-Young, a senior conservation officer who works in enforcement and compliance with Environment Yukon.
'I think this is a good message to send. We're trying to get companies to properly dispose of their solid waste and get permits where required,' said Aaron Koss-Young, a senior conservation officer who works in enforcement and compliance with Environment Yukon. (Claudiane Samson/Radio-Canada)

Fine should serve as a deterrent, says enforcement officer

Aaron Koss-Young is a senior conservation officer who works in enforcement and compliance with Environment Yukon.

"Anytime solid waste is burned improperly, or burned at all for that matter, it releases certain toxins into the air," he said.

Koss-Young said this range of fine is rare, at least in Yukon.

"Certainly this is a substantial fine in Yukon. We haven't seen these kinds of fines under the Environment Act that I can remember," he said.

He hopes the guilty plea for two charges and total bill of $60,000 will serve as a deterrent.

"I think this is a good message to send. We're trying to get companies to properly dispose of their solid waste and get permits where required."

Company says it 'no longer works' with subcontractors it claims are responsible

Northern Enviro Services replied by email to CBC.

The company took responsibility for its overall policy but said it no longer has ties with subcontractors who disposed of the waste.

"Both offences arose due to the actions of NES subcontractors and not by NES itself. Although NES did not direct the contractors to do these acts it recognized that it could have had a better system in place to prevent the offences," read the email from the company, which was not attributed to any one sender.

The email added that "NES no longer works with these contractors and we have updated our policies to ensure no such incidents occur."

The company did not name the subcontractors it claims were responsible.

Northern Enviro Services works in mining exploration and development, general contracting, heavy equipment and waste management in Watson Lake.

Charges are proof that TIPP line gets results, says enforcement officer

Koss-Young says he wants to thank those who called the Turn in Poachers and Polluters (TIPP) line.

He said the service allows callers to remain anonymous, and said any detail such as photos, licence plate numbers, exact dates and detailed descriptions can help investigators.

"Without the public's assistance in this matter, we wouldn't have been able to conclude this investigation the way we did," he said.