Canadian National Railway Company (CN) - conviction information for 2021-09-15

Corporation details
Corporation name: Canadian National Railway Company (CN)
Address: 935 de la Gauchetiere Street West
City: Montreal
Province/territory: Quebec
Postal code: H3B 2M9
Country: Canada
Sector or industry: 482 - Rail transportation
Case details
Location of offense: CN Skeena subdivision , between the City of Terrace and City of Prince Rupert , British Columbia
Case summary:

CN operates rail lines, of approximately 94.6 miles in length, between Terrace and Prince Rupert, B.C. known as the Skeena Subdivision. Between August 24 and 28, 2017,  Wilderness Environmental Services (WES) conducted spray application of herbicides in the CN Skeena subdivision on behalf of CN as part of CN’s vegetation management program.

On August 28, 2017, EED Enforcement Officers observed the discharge of a mist from spray booms on the front and rear of a WES spray truck, as it travelled along the CN Skeena Subdivision rail tracks that run parallel to the Skeena River. A sample of the sprayed substance was collected from the spray nozzle of the WES spray truck. Laboratory analysis of the sampled substance determined that it contained 900 parts per million of imazapyr, which is acutely lethal to fish at full strength and when diluted with water at 2% concentration.

Subsequent sampling of sediment and impacted vegetation at eight locations sprayed by WES in the CN Skeena Subdivision, detected active ingredients of herbicide formulations namely imazapyr, metsulfuron-methyl, glyphosate and aminopyralid in close proximity to fish bearing waters. The concentrations of the herbicide formulations, containing the aforementioned active ingredients, were found to be deleterious to fish when added to water, deposited in water frequented by fish, or in a place under conditions where the substance may enter such water, at five of the locations sampled.
No dead or harmed aquatic organisms, fish or other organisms were found as a result of the herbicide spraying in the CN Skeena Subdivision.

However, the Skeena River and its’ tributaries are considered to be a globally significant ecosystem and portions of the CN Skeena Subdivision rail lines cross, or are adjacent to, environmentally sensitive areas, including many fish bearing water bodies. The Skeena River estuary contains rich habitats for many species of fish and wildlife, and its’ mudflats and shallow intertidal passages provide a nursery habitat for juvenile salmon that travel through the estuary as they migrate out to sea.

In August 2021, the Company was charged with One count of depositing a deleterious substance into fish bearing waters (FA36(3))
Enforcement notification: Canadian National Railway Company fined $2.5 million for Fisheries Act Offence
Result: Guilty Plea
Date of conviction: 2021-09-15
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: 2021-09-15
Location of sentencing: Prince Rupert, B.C. Provincial Court
  • Fine,
  • Penalty for the EDF
Amount of fine(s): $2,500,000
Sentencing details:
Joint submission that CN should receive a penalty of $2.5 million
Date modified: