Canadian National Railway has been charged for allegedly harming fish and bird habitat after a derailment spilled thousands of litres of oil into a northern Alberta lake in 2005.

In the incident, 43 cars derailed next to Wabamun Lake, west of Edmonton, spilling 700,000 litres of bunker and pole-treating oil.

Environment Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada laid three new charges against CN Tuesday. The charges come under the federal Migratory Birds Convention Act and federal Fisheries Act.

The rail company is charged with allegedly depositing a substance harmful to migratory birds in water frequented by birds.

CN also faces two charges for the alleged harmful alteration, disruption, or destruction of fish habitat.

These are not the first charges to come out of the environmental disaster.

In January 2006, CN was charged by Alberta Environment with failing to take all reasonable measures to remedy and confine the spill.

The environmental offence is punishable by a maximum fine of $500,000.

The spill originally left a slick on the surface of the lake and coated migrating waterfowl.

CN offered nearly $7.5 million on a sliding scale to the area's 1,600 residents, with those who live closest to the lake to receive the most money.

The company has said the largest payouts will be $15,000.

The Paul First Nation, whose reserve is on the western shore of the lake, has also filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against CN, Ottawa and the province, alleging the spill destroyed its traditional way of life.

CN's first court appearance for the new federal charges is March 19 in Edmonton.