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Alberta utility's late reporting of 2015 PCB spill earns hefty fine

Last Updated Aug 16, 2018 at 3:00 pm EST

HINTON, Alta. – The electrical utility FortisAlberta has been fined $300,000 for a spill of potentially dangerous polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, in west-central Alberta nearly three years ago.

Environment and Climate Change Canada says in a release that a provincial court judge ordered the fine Wednesday after the company pleaded guilty to two charges of violating federal regulations.

The department says the charges relate, in part, to FortisAlberta’s failure to quickly notify an enforcement officer or other designated person of the release.

Court heard that on May 12, 2016, the utility reported a spill at one of its transformers in Hinton, but an investigation showed the company had discovered the problem on Oct. 19 of the previous year.

Test results showed that about 325 litres of oil containing PCBs was released into the environment.

The department says FortisAlberta will be added to the Environmental Offenders Registry, which contains information on convictions of corporations under certain federal environmental laws.

The fine will be directed to the Environmental Damages Fund.

Officials said scientific data suggest PCBs are probable human carcinogens and are toxic to fish at low concentrations.

There was no indication from the department if anyone outside of Fortis came in contact with the oil, or if it leaked into any waterway.