B.C. vegetarian-food firm fined $285K over vegetable oil leak

The Richmond, B.C., company, whose founder is credited with inventing the veggie dog, was ordered to pay the penalty after the oil was released into a local waterway several times over a period of seven years.

Garden Protein International ordered to pay penalty after oil released into ditch near Fraser River

Garden Protein International pleaded guilty to one offence under the Fisheries Act and has been ordered to pay $285,000. (CBC)

A Richmond, B.C., company whose founder is credited with inventing the veggie dog has been fined more than a quarter of a million dollars after vegetable oil leaked into a local waterway several times over a period of seven years. 

Garden Protein International, a manufacturer of meatless food products, pleaded guilty to one count of unlawfully depositing a deleterious substance under the federal Fisheries Act.

Since 2011, there have been three documented cases of vegetable oil being released into a drainage ditch next to the Fraser River, according to court documents.

"The Fraser River is frequented by fish, so any time a deleterious substance enters those waterways it can harm the fish habitat," said Crown lawyer Jessica Lawn.

Since 2011, there have been three documented cases of vegetable oil leaking into a drainage ditch near this stretch of the Fraser River in Richmond. (CBC)

'It's a significant fine'

In an agreed statement of facts, court heard Monday that the company didn't comply following initial environmental inspections.

Two charges followed in February of 2016, but one count under the Migratory Birds Convention Act was later withdrawn.

Brad Gilmore, the lawyer representing Garden Protein International, said there were never any large volume releases, but rather the leakages were from garbage bins.

The judge ordered the company to pay $285,000, which Gilmore called a "significant fine."

Garden Protein International also has to install an additional exterior trench drain to prevent any possible pollution in the future.