Complaint triggered Queen Charlotte investigation, says Environment Canada

  • Sep. 4, 2009 11:00 a.m.

Queen Charlotte has been out of compliance regarding dumping raw sewage into the ocean for more than 25 years, says an Environment Canada official. Brock Bailey, head of Central and Northern BC Enforcement, says the BC Ministry of the Environment issued a permit in the early 1980s that required a three-stage process system be put in place to treat the effluent. “This has not been put into place,” he says. “At present, the village of Queen Charlotte does not have any treatment of the sewage that is being discharged into the marine environment.” He says enforcement officers recently investigated the issue in response to a complaint by a member of the public. Mr. Bailey says almost all coastal municipalities discharge sewage effluent into the ocean, but the key issue is the level of treatment of the effluent prior to discharge. He says other sites have been inspected and have been required to upgrade their sewage discharge too. Queen Charlotte is now required to have a comprehensive plan to comply with the Fisheries Act by June 2010 or the village could face fines of up to $200,000 a day and possible jail terms for village officials. Mr. Bailey says no enforcement actions are being contemplated at this time, as the inspector’s direction specifies a timeline for the submission of the required plans.