Vale Newfoundland & Labrador Limited - conviction information for 2016-08-23

Corporation details
Corporation name: Vale Newfoundland & Labrador Limited
Address: Suite 700, Baine Johnson Centre, 10 Fort William Place
City: St. John’s
Province/territory: Newfoundland and Labrador
Postal code: A1C 1K4
Country: Canada
Sector or industry: 212 - Mining and quarrying (except oil and gas)
Case details
Location of offense: Voisey’s Bay Mine Site, Voisey's Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador
Case summary:

Treated process water from the mill located at the Vale Newfoundland & Labrador Limited (hereinafter referred to as VALE) Voisey’s Bay Mine, is pumped through a pipeline which is approximately 10 km long, and discharged into the marine environment, namely Edwards Cove in Anaktalak Bay. On March 27, 2013, EO KENNELL received notification from VALE that a discharge of potentially acute lethal effluent at the Voisey's Bay Mine site on March 26, 2013.  Upon the initial discovery, the Tailings and Water Management Coordinator enacted SOP-ML15 (Treated Effluent Pipeline Shutdown) in order to begin preparations for shutdown of the treated effluent pipeline.

The subsequent investigation identified the underlying root causes of this incident according to the report provided by VALE as:

1. The treated effluent system was not dosed with hydrogen peroxide due to miscommunication between the Control Room Operator (CCO) and field personnel. During switch over of peroxide tanks the CCO assumed the manual valve switch over was completed and did not have the reagent operator verify in the field. As a result the peroxide pumps ran dry resulting in damage to the pumps and peroxide not being added to the treatment system.

2. A restoration of the Digital Control System (DCS) server to an older back-up following a failure of the system in late 2012 resulted in the DCS alarms (dosage deviation) and interlocks associated with the peroxide dosing system to be lost. When the peroxide system pumps malfunctioned, and hydrogen peroxide flow stopped, the programmed system alarms did not activate.

3. At the time of the incident the manual checks of peroxide addition were not conducted by the Reagent Operators as per SOP-ML06 (Hydrogen Peroxide Dosing Procedure). This also played a role into the length of time between when the peroxide dosing ceased and was recognized by mill staff (approximately two days).

1 under Subsection 36(3) of Fisheries Act

“Vale Newfoundland & Labrador Limited, on or between March 24th, 2013 and March 27th 2013, both days inclusive, did unlawfully deposit a deleterious substance, to wit; acutely lethal effluent as defined in the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations, into water frequented by fish, to wit; Edwards Cove, Anaktalak Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador, in violation of Subsection 36(3) of the Fisheries Act R.S.C. 1985 c. F-14 and did thereby commit an offence contrary to s. 40(2) of said Act.”
Enforcement notification: Vale Newfoundland and Labrador to pay $30K for Fisheries Act violation
Result: Guilty Plea
Date of conviction: 2016-08-23
Court level: Provincial and Territorial Court
Nature of offense(s):
  • Allowed the deposit of a deleterious substance
Additional details about the nature of the offense:
Legislative details
Act Regulations Section(s)
Pollution Prevention provisions (subsection 36(3)) of the Fisheries Act 36(3)
Date of sentencing: 2016-08-23
Location of sentencing: St. John's, NL
  • Fine,
  • Penalty for the EDF
Amount of fine(s): $30,000
Sentencing details:
On August 23, 2016, before the Provincial Court of Newfoundland and Labrador in St. John’s, NL, Vale Newfoundland & Labrador Limited pleaded guilty to depositing a deleterious substance into water frequented by fish contrary to s.36(3) of the Fisheries Act; and was sentenced to pay a fine of $5,000 and contribute $25,000 to the Environmental Damages Fund
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