August 16, 2004

Electroplating firm levied $25K fine for toxic spill

KITCHENER, ONT-Canadian Connector Cote recently pleaded guilty to a charge under the Ontario Water Resources Act (OWRA) in connection with a toxic waste spill; the Waterloo electroplating firm was fined $25,000 plus a victim fine surcharge. The company had placed a large holding tank for plating waste from its operations on-site, but beyond its secured storage area. In December, 2002, while a number of barrels around the waste storage tank were moved, a valve was broken, spilling the contents - a tin solution, neutralized waste and stannous sulphate - onto the floor and into a storm sewer discharging into Laurel Creek. Despite the efforts of staff to contain the flow, between 500 and 1,000 gallons spilled. The company promptly notified the Ministry of Environment (MOE) about the spill. MOE staff arriving at the site observed a milky-coloured discharge flowing from the storm sewer outfall into the channel that discharges to the creek. Analysis confirmed the discharge as highly toxic. Waterloo Region staff worked with Canadian Connector staff to prevent the spill from migrating downstream to Laurel Creek. The company was charged with permitting the discharge of waste that may impair the quality of the water of any waters, contrary to section 30(1) of the OWRA. On a joint submission, Canadian Connector, which has a prior conviction for the same offence, pleaded guilty to the single count and was fined $25,000. The company subsequently carried out a full cleanup of the spill at its own expense.
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