A coalition of B.C. environmentalists has laid a second private charge against the Greater Vancouver Regional District and the province. The environmentalists accuse the GVRD of allegedly violating the federal Fisheries Act by dumping toxic material into a waterway.

The group, which includes the Sierra Legal Defence Fund and the United Fishermen and Allied Workers Union, claims the GVRD's Iona treatment plant in Richmond has dumped fluidtoxic to fish into the Strait of Georgia.

Sierra environmental investigator Doug Chapman said the plant has failed eight monthly toxicity tests in the past two years.

He said the plant doesn't remove enough of the oil, metals andhuman waste that it processes before pumping effluent into the ocean.

As a result, said Chapman, 14 tonnes of copper a year are dumped into the Georgia Strait, and immediate upgrading of the plant is needed now.

"We're worried about the long-term impacts on Georgia Strait. The kinds of heavy metals and contaminants in Vancouver sewage will ahave serious impact in 20 years if we don't do something now."

District denies allegations

Fred Nenninger, division manager for regional utility planning at the GVRD, dismisses Chapman's claims.

"The environmental monitoring programs that have been in place around this treatment plant and in Georgia Strait are indicating the exact opposite, that's there's healthy eco-systems and no environmental issues being identified."

Nenninger said there are plans to upgrade Iona by 2020.

This case is similar to one that is already winding through the court system.

Earlier this year, the same groups laid charges against the GVRD and the province over a West Vancouver treatment plant. A provincial court judge approved those charges in October.

The Iona charges have yet to be ruled on.