Environmental Health and Safety Issues in the News

Posted by on Mar 11, 2020 in Blog | 0 comments

Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) issues have all been in the news of late.  Dominating the health part of EHS is the Coronavirus, or COVID 19, which is currently a significant challenge for companies and governments worldwide.  Infectious diseases aside, there were other EHS items in the news recently.

Hydrogen Cyanide Release

As recently reported in a couple of different publications, Algoma Steel in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, had a release of hydrogen cyanide that affected employees and contractors at the plant.

SOOTODAY reports, “Algoma Steel Inc. acknowledged Thursday that some employees or contract workers have been recently exposed to hydrogen cyanide…”  The same publication provides this update:  “Brenda Stenta at Algoma Steel stated:  I have confirmed a total of five individuals – employees and contractors were involved in the incidents. They were transferred to the hospital for treatment and/or observation and released.”

This incident was reported to the Ministry of Environment, Conservation, and Parks, and the Ministry of Labour is engaged in the investigation.

Unrelated, but certainly an EHS issue at Algoma Steel (and headache for the residents and the company), was a release to the atmosphere of brown/black smoke.  This release occurred on February 27, 2020, and like the release in Hamilton, Ontario, last year, it was very visible to nearby residents.  See the images of the air release in Sault Saint Marie here.

Seven-Figure Fine

In a February press release, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) stated, “On February 18, 2020, Drever Agencies Inc. was fined $1,250,000 in Wetaskiwin Provincial Court for an offence under the Fisheries Act.  The company pleaded guilty to a charge of depositing a deleterious substance into water frequented by fish.  The fine will be directed to the Government of Canada’s Environmental Damages Fund.”

The release dates back to an August 2017 incident when ECCC responded to a report of a solvent spill on a commercial property.  ECCC said, “…a number of dead fish were observed in an unnamed creek.  The subsequent investigation determined that approximately 1,800 litres of Petrosol solvent leaked from a storage tank owned by Drever Agencies Inc. and entered the creek.”

Environmental protection – air, land, water – requires constant vigilance.

Expensive Solvent Spill

Finally, a release that occurred seven years ago in British Columbia was recently settled.  The CBC reports, “A truck driver, and the company he worked for, are facing hefty fines for a massive jet fuel spill that contaminated a B.C. waterway in 2013.  Danny Lasante was transporting 35,000 litres of jet fuel, meant for helicopters fighting a nearby wildfire, when he crashed the truck in July 2013 and slid into Lemon Creek in the Slocan Valley in B.C.’s West Kootenay region on July 26, 2013.”

The report goes on to say the release affected the aquatic life in a local river, and residents experienced nausea, headaches, and burning eyes.

The fine included $175,000 and an additional $20,000 fine for the driver of the truck. The cleanup/remediation of the spill cost the company $5,000,000.

Managing environmental, health, and safety issues is often routine and un-noteworthy; however, at times, as above, they can be punctuated by stressful events.  If you need help with environmental issues, put our decades of experience to work for you.

You can reach me at 519-979-7300, Ext. 114.

Principled Foundation | Thoughtful Advice | Smart Solutions