University of British Columbia - conviction information for 2018-11-27

Corporation details
Corporation name: University of British Columbia
Address: 2329 West Mall
City: Vancouver
Province/territory: British Columbia
Postal code: V6T 1Z4
Country: Canada
Sector or industry: 913 - Local, municipal and regional public administration
Case details
Location of offense: 6066 Thunderbird Blvd, Vancouver, British Columbia
Case summary:
On September 12, 2014, Environment and Climate Change Canada was contacted regarding an ammonia odour at an outfall ditch connected to Booming Ground Creek in Pacific Spirit Regional Park. The source of ammonia was identified as coming from a refrigeration plant at Thunderbird Arena at the University of British Columbia (UBC).
CIMCO Refrigeration and the University were completing repairs of the refrigeration system and used a negative pressure device, known as a Venturi, to purge residual ammonia vapours from the system. The mixture of water and ammonia was then discharged into a storm drain at the arena, which flowed to the outfall, through a ditch, and into Booming Ground Creek, which is a tributary of the Fraser River.
Officers and park rangers found approximately 70 dead fish in Booming Ground Creek in the two days following the discharge. The level of ammonia deposited in the water in the storm drain and ditch was analyzed and found to be harmful to fish.
Under Count 1, UBC was convicted of unlawfully depositing, or permitting the deposit of a deleterious substance, an ammonia solution, into waters frequented by fish, contrary to s. 36(3) of the Fisheries Act.
Under Count 4, UBC was convicted of failing to inform the appropriate authorities, without delay, of an occurrence that results in serious harm to fish, or of a serious and imminent danger of such and occurrence, contrary to. S. 40(3) of the Fisheries Act.
Enforcement notification: University of British Columbia fined $1.2 million and CIMCO Refrigeration fined $800,000 for the 2014 release of ammonia-laden water into a tributary of the Fraser River
Result: Guilty (Court Decision)
Date of conviction: 2018-11-27
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); 40(3)
Date of sentencing: 2019-06-28
Location of sentencing: Richmond, BC
  • Penalty for the EDF
Amount of fine(s): $1,200,000
Sentencing details:
On the 28th of June 2019, before the Provincial Court of British Columbia, UBC was convicted on two counts of the Fisheries Act.  UBC was ordered to pay a fine of $1,150,000 for depositing a deleterious substance and a fine of $50,000 for failing to report the deposit in a timely manner.

The total fine of $1,200,000 will be paid to the Governement of Canada's  Environmental Damages Fund.  The Court recommended that the fine be used for the purpose of restoration of fish habitat in the Fraser River, its tributaries or its estuary.  UBC was also ordered to maintain and operate monitoring equipment to measure pH, temperature, conductivity and turbidity at the Booming Ground Creek outfall until June 29, 2025.
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