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Yukon trucking company admits to safety violations

A trucking company that spilled jet fuel on the Alaska Highway has admitted the truck's brakes were not up to code and its driver could not provide proof of having been properly trained.

Company fined $1,250 for rusty brakes and driver who couldn't provide proof of training

The Pacesetter truck that overturned in June at the intersection of the North Klondike Highway and the Alaska Highway in Whitehorse closed both highways for hours. (RCMP)

A trucking company that spilled jet fuel on the Alaska Highway has admitted the truck's brakes were not up to code and its driver could not provide proof of having been properly trained. 

Pacesetter Petroleum Ltd. was fined in Yukon Territorial Court on Tuesday. 

The company pleaded guilty to four charges under the National Safety Code Regulations, Motor Vehicle Act and Dangerous Goods regulations. 

Yukon's territorial court imposed a total fine of $1,250. 

On June 22, a tanker truck carrying 16,800 litres of aviation fuel rolled over at the intersection of the Alaska Highway and North Klondike Highway in Whitehorse. Some of the fuel spilled and nearby soil was excavated for disposal. 

The truck was inspected after the spill. 

Court documents say "brakes on the left side of both drive axles did not meet the specifications contained in the National Safety Code and showed signs of rust." 

The court document does not address whether the rust would have contributed to the crash, which is described to have happened when"the brakes locked and (the truck) flipped onto its left side as it attempted to negotiate the corner." 

The driver suffered minor injuries. 

No certificate of training, logbook

The court file names the driver, Steven Mervin, who is no longer employed by Pacesetter Petroleum Ltd.

Court documents state that he "did not hold a training certificate issued by his employer or otherwise that indicated he was adequately trained to transport the dangerous goods." 

Court records also note that Mervin did not have in his possession a logbook or record of hours driven, which is required by law. 

It also says he did not log any safety inspections of the vehicle in writing. 

Co-worker defends safety record, says driver was qualified

The company's dispatcher, Dave Geoghegan says Mervin did indeed fail to maintain paperwork, but says he was properly trained to handle dangerous goods.

"I trained him myself,"  Geoghegan said, adding a dangerous goods training certificate "is like a driver's licence. If you don't have one to show, you get in trouble." 

​Geoghegan said brakes are supposed to be inspected as part of the walkaround, and said the company's surveillance cameras captured Mervin checking the vehicle before leaving. However he said Mervin might have missed inspecting the brakes and failed to maintain a logbook on that day. 

Geoghegan described Mervin as a qualified and experienced mechanic who "made a mistake."

Pacesetter Petroleum Ltd., was also involved in a spill in August. In that case about 29,000 litres of automotive fuel were spilled alongside the Alaska Highway.

The company has defended its safety record, saying it moves 5 million litres of fuel every month and that its drivers and vehicles are safe. 

The issuing judge in the case also agreed the company "appears to be in conformity" with safety rules in its usual operations.

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