Beets’ defence for setting pond on fire holds no water, judge rules

The star of a Discovery Channel mining show who let one of his employees set a pond on fire in the Klondike has been convicted of charges under the Water Act.

The star of a Discovery Channel mining show who let one of his employees set a pond on fire in the Klondike has been convicted of charges under the Water Act.

Judge Peter Chisholm convicted Anthony Beets alongside Tamarack Inc., of which Beets is a director, on May 17 for depositing waste into the water and failing to report a fuel spill back in October 2014.

Chisholm rejected the defence’s argument that gasoline wasn’t waste under the legislation.

“In addition to employing common sense, there is ample expert evidence for me to hold that gasoline meets the definition of ‘waste’ under the legislation,” Chisholm wrote in the judgment.

He also rejected the arguments that the amount of fuel was so small it didn’t deserve prosecution and that most of the fuel had combusted, resulting in little to no harm to the environment.

“The fact that the gasoline was combusted soon after it was introduced in the water does not assist the defendants, as the act of combustion itself may lead to other dangerous by-products entering the water system,” Chisholm wrote.

“This is one of the reasons why the burning of such a spill is not recommended.”

In 2014 a Discovery Channel crew was following Beets and his team working at the dredge at Eureka Creek near the Indian River.

On Oct. 4, one of Beet’s subcontractors, welder Mark Favron, decided to pour fuel on the dredge pond and light it on fire.

“I don’t give a fuck,” Beets told Favron when he asked whether he could do it, according to Favron’s testimony in court.

Favron estimates he poured about four to seven litres of gasoline on the pond before setting it on fire. He ended up paying a $1,725 fine for that.

The entire scene was captured and broadcast during an episode of the show Gold Rush.

A clip from the episode was shown to the court.

As Favron is seen pouring fuel, a man narrates in a dramatic reality TV voice that the crew is about to give the dredge a “Viking baptism.”

The gasoline instantly catches fires and the camera zooms in on a cheering Beets screaming to the film crew: “I told you guys, ‘come hell or high water!’”

The defence of due diligence couldn’t be used in this case because there was no evidence Beets took any step to avoid such an incident, Chisholm ruled.

“In fact, it appears from the evidence of Mr. Favron that the defendants had not established a training program for employees or contractors with respect to the handling of waste on site or the proper response to waste spill.”

“As well, Mr. Beets’ acceptance of Mr. Favron’s actions with the gasoline demonstrate that dumping waste into the water was in this situation, at least, not a priority for him or Tamarack Inc.”

Chisholm convicted Tamarack Inc. because Beets was a “directing mind” of the company at the time of the offence.

“Mr. Beets was the face of Tamarack Inc. at this mining operation. Not only was he the site boss, he represented the company in his role as director,” Chisholm wrote.

“(Beets) decision to refrain from preventing Mr. Favron’s pouring of gasoline in the pond was equally the decision of Tamarack Inc.”

A date for Beets’ sentencing hearing will be set May 26.

Contact Pierre Chauvin at pierre.chauvin@yukon-news.com

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