CN pleads guilty to environmental charges
Published Monday, May 25, 2009 6:06PM MDT
Canadian National Railway has pleaded guilty to environmental charges stemming from two spills caused by derailments close to four years ago.
The first derailment occurred back in August of 2005, where almost 800,000 litres of bunker oil and wood preservative was dumped into Wabamun Lake, just west of Edmonton.
CN also pleaded guilty in an Alberta courtroom Monday for charges related to a spill that happened just two days after the first spill in 2005 near Squamish, B.C.
That spill sent 40,000 litres of caustic soda into the Cheakamus River.
For the Wabuman spill, CN has been ordered to implement an emergency response course at NAIT that will meet industry standards and that may cost between $1 million to $1.2 million. The railway also received a provincial fine of $400,000.
But, residents in Lake Wabamun aren't so sure if the settlement is enough. Resident Rick Flesher said on the day of the spill, he was at his cabin trying to stop oil from seeping in.
"$1.4 million is not really much considering most of these houses around here are worth $1 million," he said.
The money will go to programs and organizations like the Wildlife Rehabilitation Society, the first environmental organization on scene to deal with the 2005 spill. The Society is set to receive $600,000.
"We operate really on a shoe string budget and this is the first time were going to be able to look ahead rather than looking to our daily operations," said Cheryl Feldstein, chief director of the Wildlife Rehabilitation Society.
CN admitted there were problems with their response to the incident.
"What we didn't have were the resources to deal with the spill of a bunch of oil," said CN spokesperson Jim Feeny. "The issue was getting the right equipment in early enough to deal with the spill as it was occurring."
The railway has already paid about $90 million for the cleanup of the spill and another $40 million on claims. The company is still facing a couple of lawsuits from individual cabin owners.
With files from the Canadian Press and Sonia Sunger