February 14, 2005

County fined for improper disposal of residual pesticide

STONY PLAIN, ALTA-Lac Ste Anne County was fined $5,000 after pleading guilty of disposing waste in an area other than an approved waste management facility. In May 2002, the county hired a contractor to do landscaping in order to increase yard space at its maintenance shop near Sangudo, Alberta. As part of the work, the operator was instructed to dig a trench and bury debris found on the site, including a 205-litre drum containing residue of 2,4-D, a colourless, odourless powdered herbicide used to control broad-leaf weeds in agriculture and woody plants along roadsides, railways, and utility rights-of-way. While burying the drum, the operator was exposed to the herbicide and immediately experienced sneezing, shortness of breath and watery eyes. The court concluded that there was a connection between the worker's exposure to the chemical and the symptoms, although the release posed very little public health risk. The incident was reported to Alberta Environment soon after its occurrence, and the court took note of the county's good compliance history as well as the fact that representatives of the County had expressed remorse for the incident.

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