B.C. fines C.P. Rail for wastewater discharges

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      Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) has been slapped with an "administrative monetary penalty" for effluent discharges at two wastewater treatment plants in Golden, B.C.

      The $31,500 penalty—levied following inspections that noted at least 47 incidents of "failure to comply with an effluent discharge permit" between 2015 and 2017—was dated July 4, 2018, and detailed in a summary of administrative penalties dished out under the Environmental Management Act (EMA).

      A provincial information sheet notes: "Between 2015 and 2017, numerous discharges from two wastewater treatment plants exceeded permit limits for Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD), pH and Toxicity. Twenty-nine of these permit exceedances were more than 25% over the permit limit and eighteen were more than 100% over the permit limit. The largest exceedance was on December 16, 2015 when BOD was more than 1900% over the permit limit."

      "Biochemical oxygen demand" is a measurement of dissolved oxygen needed by aerobic microorganisms to decompose organic matter in water.

      Administrative monetary penalties are not the same as court-imposed fines. The same provincial-government information page describes them as follows: "Administrative Monetary Penalties (AMPs) are discretionary financial penalties that can be administered with less onerous procedural and legal requirements than a court prosecution, making them an effective and efficient enforcement option."

      The B.C. Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy releases annual compliance inspection reports. Its tools for compliance and enforcement under the EMA often involve several steps that are usually taken before recommendation of charges to Crown counsel. These include advisories for noncompliance, warnings, orders, AMPs, violation tickets (for minor offences), court prosecutions, and "community environmental justice forums", dispute-resolution processes that involve a ministry facilitator.