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P.E.I. farmer could face hefty fine under Pesticide Control Act

Sometimes, the scales of justice seem unbalanced.
Scales of justice seem unbalanced. - ©123RF Stock Photo

The Crown wants a P.E.I. farmer to pay a hefty fine after pesticides from his farming operation were found in Hyde Creek in Cornwall.

Edwin Scott pleaded guilty under the Pesticide Control Act in provincial court in Charlottetown April 18 for cleaning out his sprayer, other than in accordance with the manufacturers label, which resulted in a waterway testing positive for a herbicide called Diquat.

The Crown is seeking a $30,000-$50,000 fine while the defence is recommending a $3,000-$5,000 fine.

Scott, who has no prior record, will be back in court for sentencing on April 27.

The court heard on Oct. 10 that children discovered dead fish while playing along Hyde Creek.

Officials were notified, and various water samples, along with the dead fish, were collected.

A total of 120 fish were killed, including 115 brook trout and five stickleback.

Pesticide analysis results showed several of the water samples tested positive for Diquat. The primary cause of death of the fish was listed as undetermined.

Officers returned to Hyde Creek on Oct. 11 and began looking for potential locations for sources of contamination.

During the investigation, they noticed a yellow substance on a farm access roadway and approached Scott at his farm to inform him of the fish kill at Hyde Creek.

They asked him if he knew what the yellow substance was, and he replied that he had rinsed out his sprayer at the farm access roadway two weeks earlier.

The court heard that Scott was co-operative during the investigation and voluntarily provided spray records for his farming operation.

His last spray was on Sept. 22.

Crown attorney Jeff MacDonald said they are seeking a heftier fine because of the impact this has on the environment.

“Fish kills are a major problem on P.E.I.,” said MacDonald.

Defence attorney Robert MacGregor said Scott did not intend for the pesticides to migrate to the stream.

“He was simply cleaning out his sprayer as he does after every application of pesticide,” said MacGregor.

“The only thing that Mr. Scott could not predict on this occasion was the amount and intensity of rainfall that occurred.”

MacGregor told the court that since this occurrence, Scott has installed a new well about 500 feet further away from the stream and plans to install a pump on that well so nothing like this happens again.

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