WHITEHORSE – A reality TV star in Yukon has been ordered to pay $31,000 in fines for violating the territory’s Waters Act.
Tony Beets was sentenced in Whitehorse last week after being convicted in May on charges of improperly disposing of waste and failing to report improper disposal.
Mining company Tamarack Inc., which includes Beets as a director, was convicted of the same charges and two counts of failing to comply with a water licence.
The matter went to court after a sub-contractor poured gasoline on a dredge pond and set it on fire in October 2014 during filming of the Discovery Channel reality TV show “Gold Rush.”
The maximum penalty for the offence is a fine of up to $100,000, one year in jail, or both.
The incident came to light when the episode aired in February 2015.
In sentencing Beets, Territorial Court Judge Peter Chisholm said the experienced miner could have prevented the stunt but didn’t, and the fine will send a message to polluters that the courts take such cases very seriously.
A clip from the episode was played in a Whitehorse courtroom during the trial in April, showing gasoline being poured into a pond in Dawson City where a piece of mining equipment sits. A torch is then thrown and the water lights on fire.
Robert Savard, Yukon’s chief mining inspector, testified that his office received a complaint over the incident in March 2015 from Environment Canada enforcement officers in Yellowknife. Charges were laid after an investigation by the territorial Department of Energy, Mines and Resources.
In the 30-second clip shown in court, a narrator says Beets is giving the equipment, called a dredge, a “Viking baptism to change its luck.”
Mark Favron, a welder employed by Tamarack, is seen in the clip pouring the gas.
Favron testified that he asked Beets if it was OK to pour the fuel into the water and that he poured about half the 7.5 litres of gas in a container.
He said he did not know he was being filmed and tried to get out of the frame when he saw the cameras.
“We were basically off the clock and a lot of stuff was going on,” Favron said.
“At one point, I saw a gas can that had some gas in it and I decided that for fun, I would pour some gas on the pond and it would be lit on fire.”
Favron was fined about $17,000 after pleading guilty. (CKRW)