January 10, 2005

Waste firm fined $85K for illegal use of head office to store, transfer waste

Erie Environmental Services was fined a total of $85,000, plus victim fine surcharges, after pleading guilty to charges relating to illegal use of its Kingsville, Ontario headquarters to handle and transfer waste.

The company holds certificates of approval (C of As) to collect and transport domestic, commercial, non-hazardous solid industrial wastes and contaminated soil and to haul processed organic waste. Neither of its two C of As allows the use of its head office location for these activities.

Between March and June 2003, the smell of decaying waste coming from Erie Environmental's head office forced a neighbouring business to keep its windows and doors closed and to turn on its air conditioning earlier in the season than it would otherwise have done. Some of the company's staff reported feeling nauseous.

A Ministry of Environment (MOE) inspection in April 2003 revealed the source of the foul odours-lugger boxes containing vegetable wastes and piles of vegetable waste on the ground at Erie Environmental's head office site. The company made some attempts to clean up the leachate from the decomposing vegetable waste; however, additional waste was deposited and more odour complaints were made by neighbouring businesses.

In response, May 2003, MOE staff revisited the head office in May 2003, where they found large containers of stored fish processing waste, which the company had collected from local industrial fish processing plants. In June 2003, the MOE issued Erie Environmental a provincial officer order requiring a plan of action for the handling, transportation, storage, processing or disposal of the waste and directing the company to cease handling, transporting, storing, processing or disposing of such waste until such time as the provincial officer agreed with the recommended plan.

The plan was to be submitted by June 27, 2003; the company did not submit a plan nor did it cease collecting and transporting fish waste. Consequently it was charged under the Environmental Protection Act with operating a waste transfer site without approval, with causing or permitting the discharge of odours that caused an adverse effect, and with failing to comply with the requirements of a provincial officer order, in violation of sections 27(1)(b), 14(1) and 186(2), respectively, under the Act. Fines of $10,000, $50,000 and $25,000 were imposed, respectively, for the three offences and the company was given 18 months to pay.

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