Northern Enviro Services has been charged $60,000 after subcontractors were found guilty of burning and dumping waste without a permit in Watson Lake.
An investigation began in January 2019 after the environment department received a tip from the public about burning activities in the community.
They found the company was discarding and burning waste contrary to the Environment Act, Solid Waste Regulations and Air Emission Regulations.
According to court records, untreated brush or wood products mixed with other materials and miscellaneous litter and garbage were abandoned. In a second incident, over five kilograms of solid waste was burned without a permit.
Northern Enviro Services plead guilty to two charges and will be required to pay a penalty of $60,000. The amount includes a fine of $8,000 and two contributions of $26,000 to the Turn in Poachers & Polluters (TIPP) and the Recycling Fund.
Conservation officer Aaron Koss-Young said the investigation for incidents that took place between 2018 and 2019 relied on a number of concerned citizens in Watson Lake, who reported the incidents and provided photos.
“These types of charges are not all that common in the Yukon, however, it’s not really known how often this really is happening. It really comes down to the public a lot of the time giving us good information about what they are seeing out there for us to be able to follow up and investigate,” he said.
The company offers a number of services, including heavy equipment, mine development and reclamation, waste disposal services and transportation.
In an emailed statement from the company, Northern Enviro Services said the incidents happened because of subcontractors with whom they are no longer working.
“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 and as a result agreed to plead guilty to the two charges,” reads the statement. “NES no longer works with these contractors and we have updated our policies to ensure no such incidents occur.”
Koss-Young said the $60,000 fine is fairly large for the Yukon, but fines in other jurisdictions in Canada can be much higher.
“It’s significant as a deterrent, hopefully, and to try and get people to think that this is a serious offense,” he said.
“Burning plastics and other material can release serious toxins to the environment that are hazardous to human health and hazardous to the environment,” he said, adding that when it is permitted, special precautions and equipment are usually required.
He said the risk is particularly important when burning takes place in a community, where smoke can affect residents, and thanked the public in Watson Lake for help with the investigation.
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