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Capital pleads guilty on spill charge

Christine Kay
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (Aug 05/02) - The City of Iqaluit has pleaded guilty to violating the federal Fisheries Act and will pay $100,000 for its mistakes.

The charge was a result of an investigation into five incidents relating to sewage spills in the fish-bearing Koojessee Inlet between April and July 2001.

Koojessee Inlet is located immediately adjacent to the city.

The city's defence lawyer, Charles Thompson, said the city was in favour of the penalty, with the majority of the funds going towards the protection of fish and their habitat.

"The disposition is a fair one," Thompson said.

Of the $100,000, only $10,000 will be paid in fines. The remainder will be divided into two separate areas: $65,000 will be contributed to Environment Canada's Environmental Damage Fund; another $25,000 will go to developing standard procedures for the operation of the sewage lift stations along with spill response training.

Under the Fisheries Act, fines of up to $300,000 can be handed out for first offences. A second offence is punishable by up to $300,000 in fines, as well as six months imprisonment.

Thompson said the city recently completed a review of the sewage lift stations and will be adding a back up generator and pump to the station.

"The sewage station has been running for many, many years and these incidents are not indicative of the way the city handles its sewage treatment on a ongoing basis," said Thompson.

"The city fell short of the standards that were required, but there was clearly no deliberate or malicious intent in this case," he explained.

Mayor John Matthews, deputy mayor Kirt Ejetsiak and deputy chief administrative officer Ookalik Curley were all present for the sentencing in the Nunavut Court of Justice July 30.

"I'm happy that it's over with and that we have resolution. We know what the judgment is and now we just have to go on with it," said Matthews, adding that the city will benefit from the manual and the training program.