SAINT JOHN, N.B. – Irving Pulp & Paper said it will pay $3.5 million in penalties after pleading guilty Tuesday to three charges of effluent discharge into the fish-bearing Saint John River.
The company said in a release that its mill near the Reversing Falls tourist attraction in Saint John failed to meet standards under the federal Fisheries Act.
The proposed court agreement would also require the installation of a multi-million-dollar effluent treatment facility as an operating condition, with a timeline for construction to be established at a later date.
Irving says federal authorities acknowledged there was no evidence fish were killed by the discharge — but noted that the company did fail a required test of trout survival in the mill’s effluent.
Some of the penalties will go towards Atlantic salmon conservation and research.
The charges were first laid on Nov. 1, 2016, and have been reduced to three from the initial 15. Irving spokeswoman Mary Keith said at the time that the charges “relate to issues that were self-reported” by the company.
The company has previously been fined on charges related to polluting the Saint John River in 1999, 2009 and 2010.
Mark Mosher, vice president of Irving Pulp & Paper, said in a news release Tuesday that the decision marks a “tough day” for the company’s 375 employees, writing that “safeguarding the environment has been and continues to be our top priority.”
The release said the company has “has worked hard to meet and exceed all environmental regulations” and plans to adhere to the court’s decisions.
“We respect the decision of the court and will ensure the mill meets the stringent guidelines established within its operating guidelines,” Mosher said.