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Water Today Title June 29, 2022

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Advisory of the Day



This story is brought to you in part by Graystone Environmental

An Environment and Climate Change Canada news release announced on February 17, that Fibrek S.E.N.C. (société en nom collectif or limited partnership) had pleaded guilty to two charges under the Pulp and Paper Effluent Regulations and the Fisheries Act. The company admitted to "depositing actually lethal effluent from its water treatment system" and "failing to file the required report in the case of depositing deleterious substances in water frequented by fish." The Resolute Forest Products subsidiary was fined a total of $125,000, ninety percent of which will be paid directly to the Environmental Damages Fund.

We spoke with Stéphane Dinel, Regional Director, Environmental Enforcement Directorate, Québec region, about the matter. Dinel informs us that the Saint-Félicien operation has a primary and secondary wastewater treatment system. Dinel states that during the investigation Fibrek was found not to be "pumping the sludge" from the wastewater lagoons used to ensure contaminants can sink or float to be removed from the effluent.

According to Dinel when the operation began the wastewater lagoons had a "capacity of 680 tons of treated effluent per day." At the time of the recorded offence the mill was producing approximately 1000 tons of effluent per day." Environment and Climate Change Canada noticed that the production capacity of the mill had increased, the wastewater lagoons were no longer efficient for the size of operation and the fact that the sludge was not being pumped compounded the situation. Wastewater should be allowed to collect in these lagoons "between six and twenty-four hours depending on the type of chemical used, and size of company" he adds.

This is not the first time that Fibrek has had problems with Environment and Climate Change Canada. Dinel says that "between 2007 and 2010 the company received four warning letters" from the department. At that time inspections were conducted and nothing was found. The main investigation that led to the guilty plea was performed in 2012.

Dinel informs us that it was during this investigation that Environment and Climate Change Canada found that the "company was in non-compliance" with weekly and monthly testing as well as not informing the department of contaminants being discharged into rivers. Dinel adds that this is the reason why Environment and Climate Change Canada initiated "law enforcement measures." The substance found to be discharged into the rivers was ammonia.

Attempts were made to contact Fibrek but our requests for comment were not responded to.

The pulp and paper industry remain a large part of the regional and provincial economy. The Resolute organization holds accountability and making choices that ensure sustainability as core values. The Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean plant employs 227 people and produces up to 356 thousand metric tons of Northern bleached softwood kraft pulp annually.

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