The CN Rail has been fined $100,000 after it failed to get authorization before applying pesticides to its tracks along the Skeena River.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy confirmed the company pleaded guilty in Prince Rupert court Thursday after it sprayed pesticides along its tracks without a pest management plan in place.
The company's latest plan expired in May 2017.
The case dates back to August 2017 when CN Rail sprayed roughly 150 kilometres of track between Terrace and Prince Rupert.
A joint investigation was first launched by the BC Conservation Officer Service and Environment and Climate Change Canada after officers noticed a CN Rail truck discharging a mist from the front and rear spray booms of the vehicle along Highway 16, confirmed a B.C. ministry spokesperson.
Luanne Roth, a campaigner with the environmental group T. Buck Suzuki Foundation, said she first saw the devastation along the Skeena River floodplain on her way back home to Prince Rupert from a farmers market in Terrace.
“Once you saw it, it was unbelievable. Just a long stretch of dead vegetation — about 25 feet on each side of the rail line,” she said.
“There’s like 50 tributaries running into the Skeena there. There was no regard for all the setbacks that are supposed to be.”
Roth said she called a biologist in Terrace to come and take samples of the dead vegetation, samples which were later supplied to federal investigators.
The ministry spokesperson said $95,000 of the fine will go to the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation to restore the Skeena region’s habitat for fish and wildlife.
A spokesperson for Environment and Climate Change Canada confirmed to Glacier Media an investigation into possible federal Fisheries Act violations is ongoing.
Glacier Media reached out to CN Rail to comment on the case and federal investigation. The company did not respond by publication time.
Editor's Note: This story has been updated from its original version to include a comment from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change.
Stefan covers climate change and the environment for Glacier Media. Have a news tip? Have a solution? Get in touch. Email email@example.com.