It was big news last week when CN Rail was forced to pay a $2.5 million fine for unlawfully spraying pesticide along the Skeena River.
But many of the news stories left out an important fact: the rail company might not have faced any legal consequences at all were it not for a vigilant Skeena local.
“Troller Luanne Roth from Rupert did most of the work to ensure the tragedy of CN spraying pesticides along the Skeena was taken up by the authorities,” reads a Facebook post from the UFAWU-Unifor Fishermen union. “If this fish harvester did not pursue the spraying violation, nothing would have happened. Congrats, Luanne, on a huge win!”
The spraying incident took place in 2017 along the Terrace to Prince Rupert rail corridor.
While driving along Highway 16, Roth, who is also an estuary campaigner with T. Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation, saw a trail of dead vegetation near salmon-bearing streams. She filed a complaint with the Ministry of Environment.
“We were shocked,” Roth said at the time.
“After receiving her complaint, both the Ministry of Environment and Environment and Climate Change Canada opened investigations into possible violations of federal environmental laws,” the Northern View reported in 2018.
A provincial fine against CN Rail was announced earlier this spring. “CN Rail has entered a guilty plea and been sentenced to a penalty of $100,000 in connection with failing to obtain the required authorization to apply pesticide to its train tracks in northwestern B.C.,” the B.C. Conservation Officer Service announced.
The bigger $2.5 million fine made public last week will go to the Government of Canada’s Environmental Damages Fund.
Which goes to show, you should never underestimate the power of a determined Skeena local. “Thanks Luanne for keeping up the fight,” Paul Kandt wrote on Facebook.