City of Moncton pleads guilty to toxic landfill

On September 22, 2003, the City of Moncton pleaded guilty to federal environmental charges related to a decommissioned landfill. This case marks the first time that Environment Canada prosecuted a municipality for landfill problems.

The New Brunswick court judge ordered the city to pay a fine of $10,000, to contribute $20,000 to the Jonathan Creek Restoration Committee, and to contribute $5,000 to the federal government’s Environmental Damages Fund. As well, the judge ordered the municipality to arrange and pay for all work needed to ensure that the landfill meets requirements of the federal Fisheries Act. Remediation costs are estimated to be as high as $700,000.

The city must monitor the landfill and report regularly to Environment Canada on test results. If there are any continuing or new problems, the municipality must then immediately address them.

Enforcement Officers of Environment Canada’s Atlantic Region laid charges last February under Section 36(3) of the federal Fisheries Act relating to toxic substances allegedly being discharged from a decommissioned landfill owned by the City of Moncton. The charges alleged that toxic substances samples from the decommissioned landfill were acutely lethal to fish, and that the toxic substances entered Jonathan Creek and the Petitcodiac River. In addition, the landfill closure plan selected by the municipality did not comply with the Fisheries Act.

Charges were laid against: the City of Moncton, the Commissioner of Public Works for the City of Moncton, an engineering consulting firm, and an employee of the consulting firm. Charges against the Commissioner of Public Works have been dropped. The charges against the engineering firm and the employee are proceeding in provincial court.

Environment Canada’s investigation was initiated based on evidence provided by Sentinelles Petitcodiac Riverkeeper, a local Moncton environmental group. Environment Canada’s Office of Enforcement then conducted its own detailed investigation, during which search warrants were executed on the landfill site, Moncton City Hall, and the offices of the engineering consulting firm.

For further information, contact Dave Aggett at 902-426-1925