Quesnel, B.C., concrete company fined $18K over air emissions

A B.C. company has been handed an $18,281 administrative penalty after discharging air emissions from four unauthorized sources at a Quesnel concrete and glass abrasives manufacturing facility.

United Concrete & Gravel (UCG) was handed the penalty last Monday, with the Ministry of Environment saying the unauthorized emissions occurred over three years — from April 10, 2021, to April 3, 2024.

The ministry says that the company was made aware of the emissions as early as 2019 and warned about them in 2019 and 2020.

According to enforcement documents, a ministry official says that it increased the penalty amount given to the company due to a previous contravention of environmental laws and the "significant duration" of the unauthorized emissions.

The ministry says the United Concrete & Gravel's Quesnel facility opened in 2013.
The ministry says the United Concrete & Gravel's Quesnel facility opened in 2013. (Google Street View)

"I find that [UCG] had a high degree of awareness and control over this contravention, therefore satisfying me that the contravention was deliberate," wrote Stephanie Little, the director of enforcement compliance at the Environment Ministry.

According to ministry documents, the emissions came from a building heat boiler and a wood residue energy system, among other sources within the plant.

The ministry says that it had issued previous warnings to the company, asking it to amend its emission permits to include the equipment producing the emissions.

"[UCG] derived an economic benefit by delaying fees associated with a permit amendment and Qualified Professional (QP) costs to support an amendment application," Little wrote in ministry documents.

The concrete company's fine was increased due to a previous contravention of the Environmental Management Act in 2019 involving an unauthorized discharge of solid waste between July 26, 2016 and Aug. 24, 2017.

While the penalty for the unauthorized emissions was increased due to the previous infraction, the ministry notes that the contravention was "moderate" in nature, and the company was making efforts to amend its permit as of February this year.

"I find that the evidence provided demonstrates that [UCG] is making the appropriate effort by engaging a qualified professional to conduct work that will support a future permit amendment," the director of enforcement compliance wrote.

A spokesperson for UCG confirmed the penalty in an email to CBC News.

"UCG is currently working with [the Environment Ministry] to update our permit, and we are planning an air quality analysis later this summer, which is also a requirement of the ministry," the spokesperson wrote.

"We plan on continuing a good relationship with [the ministry] in the future and are committed to environmental responsibility."