March 20, 2006

Poultry processor fined $50K for allowing discharge, violating C of A terms

CAYUGA, ONT-Riverview Poultry recently pleaded guilty to four charges under Ontario's Environmental Protection Act (EP Act) and was fined a total of $50,000, plus a victim fine surcharge. The Haldimand County processing plant slaughters between 15,000 and 23,000 birds a day three or four days a week. In March 2004, Ministry of Environment (MOE) officers investigating a complaint from a neighbouring farmer visited the facility and found wastewater spilling from a sewage lagoon. They also found a second spill of raw process water containing blood and fat coming from a wastewater tank. The two spills forced the farmer to delay planting for two weeks. Riverview hired a company to clean up both spills. A subsequent follow-up inspection found that the company was not complying with several conditions of its Ministry-issued certificate of approval (C of A). After an investigation, Riverview was charged under the EP Act with one count of permitting the discharge of wastewater into the natural environment which is likely to cause an adverse effect, contrary to section 14(1); and three counts of violating section 186(3) by failing comply with C of A conditions requiring preparation of an operations manual and the retaining of monitoring records and information for at least two years. John Georgakakos, owner and operator of the plant, also pleaded guilty to one charge and received a suspended sentence. In setting the penalties, the court took into account the fact that Riverview has spent more than $890,000 implementing an environmental management policy, assessing the existing lagoon berms, developing a groundwater monitoring system, conducting additional sampling and other work.

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