Slocan Valley, BC – The federal government has decided to prosecute the company that spilled 33,000 litres of jet fuel into Lemon Creek during a firefighting operation in the summer of 2013.
“I can confirm that a decision regarding intervention has been made and the nature of that decision will be communicated at the next court date,” wrote federal prosecutor Todd Gerhart in an email to the Star. “That date has not yet been scheduled but is in the process of being arranged.”
He said he expects that initial court date to be within the next few weeks. The charges against Executive Flight Centre are for violating Fisheries Act provisions that prohibit polluting a stream.
The decision means that Slocan Valley resident Marilyn Burgoon can drop the private prosecution that she has been pursuing since the fall of 2014, because, she said, it appeared the federal government was not going to prosecute. Now she says she will be spared having to raise tens of thousand of dollars in legal fees.
But from Burgoon’s perspective there is a possible downside. She says that on the rare occasions that the government does take over a private prosecution, they sometimes simply drop the charges.
“But I am optimistic, with the new government, that they will not stay the charges and will proceed with the prosecution,” she told the Star. “A new government with a new fisheries minister and a new attorney general (and both are First Nations people), this gives me encouragement because First Nations understand fisheries.”