British Columbia

Company fined $175K, driver must pay $20k after spilling jet fuel into B.C. creek

A truck driver, and the company he worked for, are facing hefty fines for a massive jet fuel spill that contaminated a B.C. waterway in 2013.

Company already spent $5M to clean up spill in West Kootenay's Lemon Creek, province says

Danny Lasante's truck was carrying 35,000 litres of jet fuel when it crashed into Lemon Creek in the Slocan Valley, located in southeastern B.C., in 2013. (CBC)

A truck driver, and the company he worked for, are facing hefty fines for a massive jet fuel spill that contaminated a B.C. waterway in 2013.

Danny Lasante was transporting 35,000 litres of jet fuel, meant for helicopters fighting a nearby wildfire, when he crashed the truck in July 2013 and slid into Lemon Creek in the Slocan Valley in B.C.'s West Kootenay region on July 26, 2013.

He was later convicted on one count under the Environmental Management Act for causing the leak. 

"Had Mr. Lasante taken even a little more care, the spill might not have occurred,"  provincial court Judge Lisa Mrozinski wrote in her 2018 judgment. 

He was driving along a closed road that was not maintained, narrow, wet and carved out of a hillside beside a fast moving creek.

He was fined $20,000 in Nelson Provincial Court last week. He has two years to pay the fine, half of which will be given to the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation. 

A tanker carrying 35,000 litres of jet fuel is shown after it crashed into Lemon Creek, about 60 kilometres north of Castlegar, B.C., in 2013. (The Canadian Press)

Calgary-based Executive Flight Centre Fuel Services Ltd, the trucking company that employed Lasante, pleaded guilty in Nelson Provincial Court last Friday to one count of a deleterious deposit into waters frequented by fish, under the Fisheries Ac. The company has been fined $175,000.

The bulk of the money — $165,000 — will go to the Environmental Damages Fund to be used for fish habitat conservation efforts in the Slocan Valley.

The spill contaminated the waterway that is a tributary of the Slocan River and "caused harm and even death among the aquatic life" in Lemon Creek and in the Slocan River downstream, according to the judgment that found Lasante guilty.

The fuel "caused harm and even death among the aquatic life" in Lemon Creek and in the Slocan River downstream, according to a previous provincial court judgment in the case.

Nearby residents reported that inhaling the fumes led to symptoms like nausea, headaches and burning eyes and there was a mass evacuation as a result.

The spill cost the trucking company approximately $5 million in clean-up costs, according to Conservation Officer Service which was involved in the investigation. 

The Province of B.C. was acquitted of all charges related to the spill.

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