UBC and CIMCO Refrigeration, a contracting company hired by the university, have been jointly charged with Federal Fisheries Act violations. These charges stem from an incident on September 12, 2014 in which ammonia was allegedly discharged into a storm sewer on UBC’s Vancouver campus.
The storm sewer feeds into Booming Ground Creek, a fish bearing stream close in proximity to the mouth of the Fraser River and a sensitive marsh. According to a 2002 study, although there are some fish species that can tolerate high levels of environmental ammonia, the chemical is ultimately toxic to all vertebrates in high enough concentrations.
“UBC responded within hours of learning about the possible discharge in 2014, and instructed CIMCO to cease its work immediately,” said Susan Danard of UBC Public Affairs in an emailed statement to The Ubyssey.
According to Danard, the alleged discharge occurred while CIMCO was conducting repair work on a chiller used to maintain the ice at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sport Centre.
The university and CIMCO Refrigeration were both charged on four counts, including one for failing to notify the appropriate authorities “without delay.” Danard, however, stated that UBC “cooperated fully with federal and other authorities in their investigations of the 2014 incident.” The co-accused were both additionally charged with the deposit of deleterious substances.
Danard also said that “UBC is committed to the prevention of any unlawful discharge into its stormwater system,” and that UBC is continuing to review the circumstances of the incident.
The next appearance for both CIMCO Refrigeration and UBC is set for June 21, 2016 in the Richmond Provincial Court. A hearing or trial date will be set at that time.