Paint dumping under investigation

Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans jointly investigating an incident in which paint was poured into a storm drain.

PORT HARDY—The Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans are jointly investigating an incident earlier this month in which paint was poured into a storm drain near the Sea Gate dock and Hardy Bay.

“On May 12 we got at least one call from someone in the community concerned about paint being poured down a storm drain,” said Kelly Aitken of Port Hardy’s DFO office. “We did confirm there was paint entering the storm drain, and stopped the activity.”

Aitken and another fisheries officer took samples and photos and forwarded the information to Environment Canada.

A short time afterward, a milky substance could be seen pooled among the rocks and seaweed along the beach, which was exposed at low tide.

“Now it’s under investigation, and we’re waiting for feedback from Environment Canada,” Aitken said. “It may still be prosecuted under the Environmental Act.”

It is an offence under the act to pour a deleterious substance into the ocean or into a location — particularly waterways — where it might get into the ocean.

The incident took place on the seaward side of the Sea Gate Hotel, which is under renovation for a planned re-opening this year. Aitken withheld the name of the alleged offender as the investigation is ongoing, and did not confirm whether it was an employee or contractor on the renovation project.

Aitken applauded the caller who reported the incident, and invited the public to share information if they see what they believe might be illegal activity.

“If you think it might be harmful, call us,” she said. “Seven Mile (landfill) takes everything, and there’s always somebody driving by who can help you get paint, oil and solvents there. There’s no need to go into the ocean and wreak havoc on our oceans and our beaches.”

If you believe you’ve witnessed illegal or hazardous dumping in the marine environment, call the fisheries hotline at 1-800-465-4336 or the Provincial Emergency Coordination Centre at 1-800-663-3456.