January 2, 2006

Diesel fuel spill results in $50K fine for CN Rail

THUNDER BAY, ONT-Canadian National Railway (CN Rail) was fined $50,000 and levied a victim fine surcharge in connection with a spill of diesel fuel in the spring of 2003. CN operates several diesel-electric generators at a site near Armstrong, in the district of Thunder Bay. Diesel fuel for these generators is stored in an above-ground tank adjacent to the site. In May 2003 a CN machine operator improperly monitored the level of fuel while refilling the tank, causing the tank to overflow. The fuel flowed into an outdoor ditch that had been dug by CNR. The operator did not report the spill. In June 2003 a CN track maintenance foreman investigating a strong fuel odour discovered the fuel in the ditch. While the total amount of diesel fuel spilled is unknown, most of it was contained on company property. CN cleaned up the site and removed contaminated soil to the satisfaction of the Ministry of Environment (MOE). The company did not report the discharge to the Ministry at this point, but confirmed the discharge when contacted by the MOE after it received an anonymous tip regarding the discharge later that month. CNR was convicted of one charge of causing or permitting the discharge of a contaminant having the potential to impair water quality, in violation of section 30(1) of the Ontario Water Resources Act.

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