Crystal Schick/Yukon News Courthouse in Whitehorse on March 30.

Dawson-area placer miner fined $4,500 after oil spills from bulldozer

The Crown and defence agreed that Campbell Arkinstall didn’t intend to cause the spill

A Dawson-area placer miner has been fined $4,500 after an old bulldozer leaked a “relatively small amount” of oil onto the ground of the claim he was working.

Campbell Arkinstall, via his lawyer Peter Sandiford, pleaded guilty in territorial court Sept. 4 to one count under the Placer Mining Act of engaging in a Class 1 placer land use operation while not in accordance with applicable operating conditions.

He also pleaded guilty to two counts under the Environment Act for failing to mitigate a spill and contravening an environmental protection order.

Crown attorney Megan Seiling read an agreed statement of facts to the court following the pleas.

According to the facts, on Aug. 2, 2017, a natural resource officer inspected a placer claim in Grand Forks, south of Dawson City, that was 100 per cent owned by Arkinstall. The officer found a disassembled bulldozer on the site that had leaked oil covering an area of about 25 feet as well as catch buckets overflowing with water and oil.

The officer issued an environmental protection order requiring Arkinstall to clean up the spill and file a report once he did the work. Arkinstall had until Sept. 2, 2017, to comply with the order, but another inspection of Sept. 12 found the bulldozer in the same position with no signs of any cleanup or remediation work.

Arkinstall eventually cleaned up the spill in the spring of 2018 but did not report that he had done so, Seiling said; however, an inspection on May 7, 2018, confirmed that the work was completed.

Seiling said that Arkinstall had been fixing the bulldozer when it began to leak and that he had placed buckets underneath it to catch the waste, but the buckets eventually overflowed onto the cardboard underneath the bulldozer and onto the ground.

The spill had “no significant impact” to the land or the environment, according to the agreed statement of facts.

The Crown and defence both requested a $500 fine for the Placer Mining Act charge and $4,000 for both the Environment Act charges.

Seiling said that the fines are on the lower end of the spectrum and are appropriate given the circumstances since the spill was “relatively small,” took place in a heavily-mined area and was eventually cleaned up.

Sandiford said his client’s operation was essentially a “one-man show” and that the court case has been a “relatively large ordeal.” Arkinstall had no intention to cause the spill or avoid the clean up, Sandiford said, and had even tried to avoid a spill by draining the bulldozer earlier and putting buckets in place to catch any additional oil.

Arkinstall “regrets this happened,” Sandiford said, and understands that he needs to communicate more clearly with natural resource officers in the future.

Justice of the Peace Sharman Morrison-Harvey accepted the joint sentencing submission. She also accepted a submission from Sandiford to waive the normally-enforced 15 per cent fine surcharge, noting that Arkinstall had “tried to prevent the spill in the first place” but the his system — the buckets — was “obviously not a good one.”

Arkinstall has 60 days to pay the fine.

The Crown stayed five other charges against Arkinstall.

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the date when Arkinstall cleaned up the spill. He cleaned up the spill in the spring of 2018 and an inspection on May 7, 2018, confirmed that the work was completed. The News regrets the error.

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