More Environmental Enforcement News and Update on Air Release in Hamilton

Posted by on Dec 2, 2019 in Blog | 0 comments

The Environmental Emergency regulations are not brand new.  Yes, these regulations did go through the repeal and replace process this past summer (August 24, 2019), but they were enacted in 2003, and we were discussing the E2 Regulation in 2016.

In general, we have been suggesting that our clients be watchful with respect to the potential for more environmental enforcement action.  With that said, the recent E2 enforcement action, which you may have read about in the news, dates back to a July 2016 order.  Nevertheless, it should serve as a reminder to not “ignore” regulations and regulatory orders.

Here is what Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) reported on November 19, 2019.

“On November 12, 2019, K-G Spray-Pak Inc. (of Concord, Ontario) was ordered to pay a fine of $170,000 in the Ontario Court of Justice.  The company pleaded guilty to two offences under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, including one count of violating the Environmental Emergency Regulations and one count of failing to comply with an environmental protection compliance order.  The total fine will be directed to the Government of Canada’s Environmental Damages Fund.”

ECCC goes on to report that they conducted an investigation of the site in February 2017.  The investigation revealed that K-G Spray-Pak Inc. failed to comply with an environmental protection compliance order issued by ECCC in July 2016.

Be Informed, Understand, and Implement

If there are any “take aways” from this enforcement action – it may be these:

  1. Keep a close eye on regulatory developments. This includes changes to regulations that can change the applicability to include your operations where previously they did not apply.
  2. Make sure you understand your obligations to develop plans, obtain permits, or submit applications and/or data to regulators.
  3. Make sure you implement (timely) the required plans at your facility.

Note that we are not suggesting above that you “blindly follow” regulators’ orders.  Carefully confirm their interpretation of the regulations and their expectations going forward.  You should work closely with your legal and technical advisors to stay in compliance.

Hamilton “Dust Cloud” Update

In our October 15, 2019, blog, we discussed the dust cloud in Hamilton, Ontario, that resulted from demolition of the former Hamilton Specialty Bar and Steel facility.  It’s not surprising that a release such as this one, which was very visible in a populated area, is getting attention.

There was a recent public meeting with representatives from the Ministry of Environment, Conservation, and Parks and the environmental director for the responsible company (Delsan – AIM) on hand.

According to news reports, there were about 50 residents in attendance.  One of the residents paid more than $500 to have a company clean up her residence after the plume of dust reached her home.

The representative from Delsan – AIM expressed regret over the incident, apologized, and said that the event surprised the company as much as it surprised the residents.

Chemical Analysis of the Dust

According to a news story in Global News, the results of the testing of the dust indicate that the demolition debris is unlikely to result in any adverse, long-term health issues.

The article goes on to say, “A toxicologist employed by public health services says samples from the community were consistent with ordinary minerals and metals found in a simple dirt sample, with particle sizes of about 20 to 40 microns.”  These relatively-larger-sized particles are “good news” in that they would be too large to be trapped in human lungs.

Where there was a sufficient volume of samples available on the site of the demolition, they also detected dioxin, furans, and benzo (a) pyrene.

In an interview on the Bill Kelly radio program, Dr. Bart Harvey, Associate Medical Officer of Health, stated that the dust that was deposited in the community is comprised of minerals, silica, and some metals.  Dr. Harvey did say that the list of parameters tested was limited because the volume of dust available (in the community) for sample collection was very limited.  Where there was a sufficient volume of samples available on the site of the demolition, they also detected dioxin, furans, and benzo (a) pyrene.  There may be more to report in a future blog.

With a regulatory climate that seems to be becoming more assertive (see here and here), now might be good time to take a look at your overall operations and applicability of provincial and federal regulations at your facility.  We can help.  If you would like to schedule a phone call or meeting, you can reach me at 519-979-7300, Ext. 114.

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