New Brunswick

Irving Pulp & Paper fined $37,000 for violating Fisheries Act

Irving Pulp and Paper pleaded guilty on Friday in a New Brunswick provincial court for violating the Fisheries Act and will have to pay $37,000 in fines and penalties.

Irving Pulp and Paper pleaded guilty on Friday in a New Brunswick provincial court for violating the Fisheries Act and will have to pay $37,000 in fines and penalties.

The violations stem from a Feb. 8, 2007, incident in which the company's Saint John mill released black liquor, a by-product of the pulp and paper process that is harmful to fish, into the St. John River.

A statement from Environment Canada said $30,000 of the fine will be paid to Atlantic Coastal Action Program (ACAP) in Saint John, a local non-profit organization that helps manage the local aquatic environment.

The remaining $7,000 is part of a fine paid to the provincial court.

Geoff Britt, an Irving spokesman, said the forestry company has taken steps since the accident to stop future spills from happening.

"The team at Irving Pulp and Paper is dedicated every day to top environmental performance. We sincerely regret the spill occurred," he said.

Britt said the fine and penalty came as a result of a joint recommendation between the company and the Crown prosecutor. He said the company has a strong appreciation for the work done by ACAP in the community.

"Our company has worked actively with ACAP since its founding, and we continue to work with them on a number of projects," he said.

This isn't the first dispute between the Irving mill and Environment Canada. In November 2008, J.D. Irving strongly criticized Environment Canada for being "heavy-handed" after government officials raided the Saint John pulp and paper mill in an investigation of a different spill.

About 30 agents stormed into the mill, armed with a search warrant and guns. A company representative said at the time that officials had voluntarily reported the original spill so the raid was unnecessary.

Roughly two years ago, environmental enforcement officers said Irving refused to co-operate with attempts to locate the Irving Shark, a barge contaminated with toxic chemicals that the company had sent to the Caribbean.

In March 1998, an estimated 55,000 litres of harmful by-product leaked from a holding tank at the Irving mill in Saint John. It ran into a storm drain, then into the Reversing Falls.

While the company originally pleaded not guilty to a charge of polluting under the Fisheries Act, it ultimately took responsibility for the spill and agreed to pay a $50,000 fine.

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