May 30, 2005

Leak following 2003 blackout leads to $255K fine for Royal Polymers

SARNIA, ONT-A leak of vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) at Royal Polymers' polyvinyl chloride plant in Sarnia's Chemical Valley led to a fine of $255,000, plus a 25% victim fine surcharge, for three violations of the Ontario Water Resources Act (OWRA). The offences occurred following the August 14, 2003 blackout that affected much of Ontario and many other areas of Canada and the U.S. Royal Polymers had recently commissioned a new wastewater treatment plant at its facility. Under normal conditions, the plant's cooling water would not be in contact with VCM but following the blackout, approximately 293 kilograms of vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) leaked into the plant's cooling water system. A Ministry of Environment (MOE) investigation determined that company personnel failed to restart the cooling water system after the blackout, are required by its certificate of approval (C of A), and as a result, unmonitored cooling water was discharged to the cut-off drain. Moreover, Royal Polymers did not notify the Ministry of Environment's Spills Action Centre of the discharge until August 19, 2003. The company pleaded guilty to three charges under the OWRA, including discharging, or causing or permitting the discharge of a material into a watercourse that may impair water quality, contrary to section 30(1), and was fined $100,000. A fine of $105,000 was levied for failing to notify the Ministry immediately of the discharge, as required by section 30(2) of the act. For the section 107(3) offence of operating a sewage works other than in accordance with its C of A, Royal received an additional $50,000 fine.

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