Spill which left 'no significant impact' costs Dawson City miner $4,500

'It appears [Campbell] Arkinstall tried to prevent this spill in the first place, though his system wasn't a good one,' said Justice of the Peace Sharman Morrison.

Campbell Arkinstall tried to collect some leaking oil with buckets, but they overflowed in the rain

Crown attorney Megan Seiling said that 'general deterrence' should be considered in issuing a fine. The court also heard that miner Campbell Arkinstall missed a deadline in cleaning up the spill. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

A Yukon, placer miner was fined $4,500 on Tuesday for failing to contain an oil spill, even though the prosecutor agreed the spill had "no significant impact" on the environment. 

Campbell Arkinstall's placer claim is south of Dawson City in Grand Forks. The self-employed miner was facing eight charges under Yukon's placer mining and environment acts. 

He pleaded guilty on Tuesday in Yukon Territorial Court to three counts. The other five charges were stayed. 

The fine is on the low end of the scale. A charge of contravening an environmental protection order carries a maximum fine of $300,000 or six months jail time under the Yukon's Environment Act.

Contravening conditions of Class 3 placer land use carries a maximum fine of $5,000 under the Placer Mining Act. 

An agreed statement of facts filed in court says that in August 2017, Arkinstall's placer claim was inspected by Environment Yukon. 

An environmental officer noted an old bulldozer was leaking oil at the site, which Arkinstall had attempted to collect using 20-litre buckets and cardboard. 

The system had failed as the buckets filled with rainwater. The court heard that oil spilled out from the buckets onto the ground in an area covering about 26 square metres

Arkinstall was given a month to clean up the spill but he failed to meet the deadline. 

Another inspection in May 2018 confirmed that he'd since cleaned up the oil. 

'No significant impact'

Crown attorney Megan Seiling acknowledged the spill made "no significant impact to the land or the environment" and that it's in an industrial zone that has been heavily mined in the past. 

However, she argued that it was important for the court to send a message of deterrence.

Defence attorney Peter Sandiford acknowledged "the real issue is Arkinstall's failure to work with inspectors," and respect the initial Environmental Protection Order.

"It wasn't a disregard for the environment, it's just that the bucket system didn't work," he said. "Mr. Arkinstall deeply regrets this action." 

Crown and defence lawyers issued a joint recommendation on sentencing, which the court accepted. 

Court waives additional fee

Arkinstall was described in court as elderly and self-employed, owning a handful of claims around Dawson City. 

Justice of the Peace Sharman Morrison agreed to waive a 15 per cent fee which would have added $675 to the fine. 

Morrison acknowledged the miner had tried to prevent the spill albeit not effectively. 

Arkinstall will have 60 days to pay the $4,500 fine.


  • A previous version of this story said Campbell Arkinstall was facing eight charges under Yukon's Placer Mining Act, and that they carried a maximum fine of $300,000 or six months jail time. In fact, some of the charges were under the Environment Act, and those are the maximum penalties for contravening the Environment Act not the Placer Mining Act.
    Sep 05, 2018 12:33 PM CT


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