Recent Environmental Enforcement News

Posted by on Jul 25, 2023 in Blog | 0 comments

Environmental enforcement actions can often be costly for companies especially as six-figure fines are becoming more commonplace.  Increasingly, enforcement has the potential to affect a wide-range of industries as is evident in some of the environmental enforcement cases outlined below.

Cat Litter Company Fines and Penalties Approach Six Figures

According to the Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP), Normerica, Inc. (manufacturer of cat litter) in Brantford, ON was convicted of one violation under the Ontario Environmental Protection Act.  They were fined $75,000 plus a victim fine surcharge of $18,750 and given one year to pay.

Following complaints (in August and September 2019) from the community of an odour that was described as a cleaning product scent similar to Irish Spring soap that was causing irritation of the eyes and throat, the MECP investigated.

Originally, the company did not believe that they were the source of the odour.  However, “On September 11, 2019, an Inspector with the City of Brantford met with Normerica’s Plant Manager, who advised that there had been a spill of Clean Burst at the plant on August 10, 2019.  The City Inspector advised the Plant Manager to report the spill to the ministry’s Spills Action Centre (SAC).”

According to the MECP press release, the scent product used by Nomerica, Clean Burst, is classified as a combustible liquid that may cause irritation or asthma-like symptoms after inhalation and eye irritation from eye contact.

Inspections by regulators are often initiated by complaints from neighbours.

Alberta Company to Pay $225,000 Fine

A Calgary-based company, ARC Resources Ltd., has pleaded guilty to violating Alberta environmental rules and has been ordered to pay $225,000 in fines.

According to the release, the company’s discharge produced water on a pipeline right-of-way in December 2020.  The discharge lasted one to two weeks and was reported by the company.

The news release stated, “Released fluids were observed accumulating at the surface and flowing overland into an unnamed creek located east of the release.”  The discharge contained mainly salt water and trace amounts of petroleum hydrocarbons.

Most of the fine money will go to environmental improvement projects in the area, while $2,000 will be paid to the court.

Person sampling and taking notes

The cost for environmental violations is getting more expensive and affecting a wider variety of companies (Image purchased from Shutterstock).

Rio Tinto Fer et Titane Inc Ordered to Pay $600,000

On June 15, 2023, Rio Tinto Fer et Titane Inc. was sentenced by the Court of Quebec, to pay two fines totalling $600,000.  This comes after pleading guilty to two counts of violating the Fisheries Act.  The conviction follows two spills in June and December 2020.  The fines will be paid to the Environmental Damages Fund and will “support projects that have a positive impact on the country’s natural environment.”

The incident occurred on or around June 3, 2020, when a sodium hydroxide spill occurred during work at the Rio Tinto Fer et Titane Inc. complex in Sorel-Tracy, Quebec.  A total of 1,314 litres of sodium hydroxide were discharged into the sewer system that eventually reaches the St. Lawrence River.

On the day that the incident occurred, Rio Tinto Fer et Titane Inc. notified Environment and Climate Change Canada that the final discharge point had a pH above 9.5.

The second incident occurred on or around December 26, 2020.  A broken, spent acid pipe released approximately 7,000 litres of hydrochloric acid into the complex’s storm-drainage system that again eventually reaches the St. Lawrence River.

As a result of this conviction, the company’s name will be added to the Environmental Offenders Registry.

If you have questions or need assistance with an environmental issue, contact Christopher Paré, P.Geo. Q.P. at 519-948-7300, Ext. 114. 

Dragun Corporation does not use artificial intelligence in drafting our blogs or any other material.

This blog was drafted by Alan Hahn.  Alan has an undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies and completed a graduate program in Environmental Management.  He has worked in environmental management for 45 years.  He has written hundreds of blogs and articles.  His published work includes HazMat Magazine, BizX Magazine, Michigan Lawyers Weekly, GreenStone Partners, Manure Manager Magazine, and Progressive Dairy.

This blog was reviewed by Christopher Paré, P.Geo.  Chris is a senior geoscientist and manager of Dragun’s Windsor, Ontario, office.  Chris has more than 30 years of experience on projects ranging from environmental site assessments (Phase One/Two ESA), excess soils, remedial investigations, soil and groundwater remediation, Permits to Take Water, Records of Site Conditions, vapour intrusion, and site decommissioning.  Chris is a frequent speaker, author, and expert witness.  See Chris’ bio.

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