Feds lay charges in Lemon Creek case

The first court date in the prosecution is September 13 in Nelson.

The next court date in the Lemon Creek case is September 13 in Nelson.

The next court date in the Lemon Creek case is September 13 in Nelson.

The federal government has decided to lay eight charges against Executive Flight Centre stemming from the fuel spill in 2013 when the company’s tanker truck overturned into Lemon Creek in the Slocan Valley, spilling 33,000 litres of fuel. Also named as defendants are the provincial government and the driver of the fuel truck, Danny LaSante.

Court documents filed last week show two counts of “depositing a deleterious substance in a water frequented by fish” under the Fisheries Act. The penalty on conviction is a minimum of $5,000 for an individual and $100,000 for the government or a company.

There are also six counts of “introducing waste into a stream causing pollution” under the Environmental Management Act. The maximum penalty set out in the Act is a $1-million fine or six months in jail.

Court action following the spill was first undertaken by a private citizen, Slocan Valley resident Marilyn Burgoon, who launched a private prosecution when it appeared to her that the federal government was not going to.

The fuel spill into Lemon Creek polluted the Slocan river, resulting in an evacuation and orders not to drink the water.

In January the government decided to take over the prosecution, and then later that month dropped the charges Burgoon had filed, stating that it needed to conduct further investigation.

The current charges follow the completion of that investigation.

“I am really pleased the public prosecution office is finally doing its job and there will be consequences for breaking the law,” Burgoon told the Star on Wednesday.

“It is a shame it has taken so long,” she said. “But without a private citizen bringing this before the courts it may have fallen by the wayside. I am gratified that we have that right in Canada.”

Burgoon said the charges are good for the environmental movement.

“People become apathetic because there are so many defeats,” she said.