A line of dead vegetation next to CN’s rail line near the Skeena River prompted Luanne Roth to notify the Ministry of Environment. (Photo submitted by T. Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation)

CN Rail refuses to submit pest plan in wake of government probe

Province investigates CN’s practices after dead vegetation was found along the Skeena River in 2017

After a trail of dead vegetation was discovered along CN Rail’s tracks near the Skeena River in the fall of 2017, the railway company said while it plans to abide by herbicide restrictions, it will not submit a Pest Management Plan for 2018.

A PMP outlines the planned activities and methods of removing vegetation and other pests near train tracks, as required by B.C.’s Integrated Vegetation Management Act. Since CN operates on public and private land across the country, it also must follow the Railway Safety Act.

“As a federally-regulated interprovincial railway company, CN is of the view that it is not required to submit a Pest Management Plan (“PMP”) for its 2018 vegetation management activities to the province… however, CN fully intends to carry out its activities in keeping with the high standards in place in B.C.,” CN’s coordinator of legislative affairs, Monika Pezdek, wrote in a letter to the province on May 23, 2018.

“We were shocked,” Luanne Roth said when she read the letter. Roth, who is a North Coast estuary campaigner with T. Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation, originally filed the complaint with the Ministry of Environment. She was driving along Highway 16 when she saw what looked like herbicide use near salmon-bearing streams. After receiving her complaint, both the Ministry of Environment and Environment and Climate Change Canada opened investigations into possible violations of federal environmental laws. CN’s most recent PMP had expired in May 2017, and a new one had not been filed by the company before the spraying.

When Roth saw CN’s response she said she found it unbelievable. “It’s a requirement under B.C. law, so they should be submitting one … This is very strange because, for 20 years or more, they have been applying, writing the Pest Management Plan, sending them into the provincial government. So this is totally new.”

READ MORE: Province investigates complaints on CN’s use of herbicide next to the Skeena

CN states, in its letter to the ministry, that the company doesn’t need to write a new Pest Management Plan. CN is regulated by the federal government through the Pest Control Products Act and the Pest Control Products Regulations, which dictates its use of pesticides.

But the province said that isn’t the case. The company is required to have both a Pesticide Use Notice Confirmation and a Pest Management Plan, which requires public consultation and First Nations engagement, said David Karn, the spokesperson for B.C.’s Environment and Climate Change Strategy.

“Inspections of pesticide applications conducted by any party in B.C. may be inspected for compliance with the IPM Act and Regulation, and any non-compliance determinations will be assessed according to the Ministry’s Compliance and Enforcement Policy and Procedures,” Karn said in the email.

“From the contents of the recent letter from CN, it is clear that they disagree with this position.”

Roth said regulations on both a federal and provincial level are necessary.

“The B.C. pest management law is not just a pest management plan. There’s a lot of parts to that plan that are there to protect salmon,” she said. “That’s what we’re worried about.”

Small doses of commonly used pesticides can affect salmon’s sense of smell — making it difficult for them to find food and mates.

“In the past, the fisherman’s union was able to go to the B.C. environmental appeal board under B.C. law and were able to stop them from using two really toxic chemicals along that Skeena corridor.”

In an email, CN’s manager of Western Canada media relations, Kate Fenske said, “CN fully intends to carry out its environmental activities in keeping with the high standards in place in British Columbia, including restrictions on the use of herbicides near waterways. We are fully committed to performing vegetation management activities safely and in an environmentally and socially responsible way.”

The investigations by Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Ministry of Environment are ongoing.

CN Rail Letter to BC MOE 2018-05-23 by Newsroom on Scribd

READ MORE: Glyphosate residue found on dead leaves next to CN tracks



keili.bartlett@thenorthernview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

‘Beauty amongst such tragedy:’ B.C. photographer captures nature’s trifecta

David Luggi’s photo from a beach in Fraser Lake shows Shovel Lake wildfire, Big Dipper and an aurora

B.C. declares state of emergency as more than 560 wildfires rage

This is only the fourth state of emergency ever issued during a fire season

UPDATE: 5 injured in plane crash following Abbotsford International Airshow

One in critical condition in incident involving vintage plane

Shag Creek area under evacuation order, area expanded

93 properties are being told to evacuate immediately

B.C. Wildfires 2018: Thousands prepare to leave their homes at a moment’s notice

Northwest B.C. and Cariboo seeing most fire activity in province as crews battle 490 fires

‘We will not forget:’ Thousands attend funeral fallen Fredericton officers

Hundreds of officials marched in the parade, which included massed band, several police motorcycles

Lions give up late TD in 24-23 loss to Argos

B.C. falls to 3-5, fumbling away last-minute chance in Toronto

Eagle tree cut down legally a 1st for B.C. city

Planned eagle preserve ‘a first for City of Surrey’

Northern B.C. residents face more evacuation orders as some smoke clears up

Regional District of BulkleyNechako issued new, expanded evacuation orders for remote areas Saturday

Smoky skies like a disappearing act for sights, monuments around B.C.

Haze expected to last the next several days, Environment Canada said

Canadians react to death of former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan at age 80

Nobel Peace Prize-winning former UN leader died early Saturday following a short illness

44 drownings so far this year in B.C.

Lifesaving Society urging caution to prevent deaths while on lakes, oceans and in pools

Some of B.C.’s air quality levels worse than Jodhpur, India

Okanagan, northern B.C. seeing some of the worst air quality globally

Most Read