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Paper Excellence says equipment failure led to discharges, $25,000 fine

But company says mill has good environmental record
Paper Excellence acknowledges that two discharges of wastewater from Crofton’s Catalyst mill into the ocean in 2021 were due to equipment failures, but said the mill has a good environmental record. (Citizen file photo)

Paper Excellence, which owns Crofton’s Catalyst mill, acknowledged that equipment failure at the mill led to the discharge of more than one million litres of waste water into the ocean in two instances in 2021.

But in a statement, Paper Excellence said that while the mill, which is one of the Municipality of North Cowichan’s biggest taxpayers, has a good environmental record, from time to time unforeseeable equipment problems occur.

“Catalyst Crofton has a long-standing history of environmental compliance and a committed environmental team,” the statement said.

“We continue to work to meet environmental standards and the expectations of our community.”


The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy fined the mill $25,500 for the two discharges that occurred on July 23, 2021, and on Aug. 7, 2021.

In the first incident, Catalyst discharged up to one million litres of effluent, storm water and seawater into the ocean.

Paper Excellence said an expansion joint failed without warning, resulting in untreated effluent discharging first into a foreshore pond system, and then overflowing into the Salish Sea.

In the second incident, Catalyst discharged another approximately 6,000 litres of effluent into the ocean.

Paper Excellence said the cause of that discharge was the failure of a four-year-old leachate/storm water pump installed to prevent this type of event, and two back-up pumps did not work as expected.

“Thankfully, the third level of back-up pumping started right away, which minimized the volume of untreated effluent discharged into the Salish Sea,” the forest company said.

Robert Barron

About the Author: Robert Barron

Since 2016, I've had had the pleasure of working with our dedicated staff and community in the Cowichan Valley.
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