No one wants to be on the receiving end of an environmental enforcement action. There are often fines involved, sometimes significant fines. Beyond the fines and bad public relations, the cause for the “event” still must be addressed. Below are a couple of recent enforcement events in Ontario.
Federal Enforcement in Kitchener
According to the Canadian Government, on June 24, 2021, Drewlo Holdings Inc. (in Kitchener, ON) entered into an alternative measures agreement with the Director of Public Prosecutions acting under and on behalf of the Attorney General of Canada, in response to Environment and Climate Change Canada laying a charge under the Fisheries Act. As part of the agreement, the company agreed to pay $300,000 to the Government of Canada’s Environmental Damages Fund.
Engage Qualified Consultant
In addition, Drewlo Holdings Inc. also agreed to engage a qualified environmental consultant to review the company’s current practices, evaluate the company’s existing compliance with regulations, and develop a training program for employees in leadership positions. The charge against the company was dismissed on November 10, 2021, after it was confirmed that all measures outlined in the alternative measures agreement were completed.
Citizen Reports Incident
As is often the case, a private citizen made a report when they noticed an oily substance in the river. This report led to an investigation by officers from Environment and Climate Change Canada. Samples were collected that revealed the oily substance “contained hydrocarbons that are deleterious to fish” in Schneider Creek. This is a violation of the Federal Fisheries Act.
The investigation revealed that the release resulted from demolition activity at the site.
It appears that by entering into the alternatives measure agreements, they also avoiding being listed on the Environmental Offenders Registry. Their name did not appear in the search field on the Registry’s website.
Provincial Enforcement in Brampton
A Brampton, ON company was fined for a release of ammonia. The Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks, reported that the fine came after an ammonia leak was improperly vented and employees were injured.
According to a Court Bulletin, “The conviction relates to having control of and spilling a pollutant (ammonia) that was likely to cause an adverse effect, and for failing to immediately notify the ministry of the spill circumstances and the actions taken.”
According to the same bulletin, here is a summary of what happened.
- The relief stack vented the ammonia outside the building from a discharge point located approximately 30 feet above the ground and 31 feet from the nearest entrance. However, the relief stack was equipped with a diffuser cap which directed ammonia downward rather than outward or upward.
- Due in part to the light rain and wind direction, the discharged ammonia formed a vapour plume that drifted through an open door and service entrance.
- Employees evacuated the facility, with some travelling through the open door and through the low-lying ammonia vapour plume.
The ministry said eight employees suffered “adverse health effects” from exposure to the vapour plume and that one hundred employees were evacuated from the facility.
The parent company Olybro, Inc. was convicted of one violation under the Environmental Protection Act and fined $110,000 plus a victim surcharge of $27,500.
Challenges of Environmental Protection
For those responsible for environmental protection at companies, it can be a difficult job, at times. Training of staff, observing subcontractors, and keeping a pulse on federal and provincial environmental developments are just a few of the complicating factors.
Keeping a team of environmental professionals (legal and technical) “at the ready” and providing advice as needed, is a good starting point.
At Dragun, we not only provide these blogs, tips, webinars, and newsletters, we are here to advise you, should you choose to engage us. If you would like additional information about how we can help you, contact Christopher Pare’, P.Geo at 519-948-7300, Ext. 114.
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