Environmental charges delay Goldstream fuel spill court hearing

An expected guilty plea to a criminal charge linked to last year’s fuel truck crash outside at Goldstream park is delayed until June.

An expected guilty plea to one of the criminal charges linked to last year’s fuel truck crash outside Goldstream park is delayed until June.

Lawyer Dale Marshall had Thursday’s hearing held over until June 7 after learning his client, James Allan Smith, was also charged with three environmental infractions related to dumping fuel in Goldstream River.

Marshall admitted he was caught off guard by the new charges, which were filed with the court on March 23.

“We knew there was an environmental review and a lot of work being done in the (Goldstream) area, but there was no indication (the Crown) was contemplating further charges,” Marshall said Thursday, shortly after reading the charge sheet for the first time.

Smith is criminally charged with two counts related to impaired driving and one count of  dangerous operation of a motor vehicle in the April 16, 2011, Columbia Fuels truck crash on the Malahat Drive near Goldstream park.

The crash spilled 42,000 litres of gasoline and 700 litres of diesel into a culvert that empties into Goldstream River. The b-train truck itself flipped and plowed into a rock face.

Smith now faces additional charges under the Environmental Management Act of unlawfully allowing gasoline and diesel into the environment by way of a motor vehicle crash while on the job. The second count alleges Smith introduced gasoline and diesel into the environment in such a manner as to cause pollution.

Under the Fisheries Act, he is charged with depositing gasoline and diesel into an environment where it may enter water frequented by fish.

Marshall said he wants to address both sets of charges at once in court. “They are the same incident, why not deal with them at the same time?”

editor@goldstreamgazette.com