April 24, 2006

Transformer explosion, oil release leads to $60K fine for Hydro One

WHITBY, ONT-Hydro One Networks was fined $60,000 and levied a victim fine surcharge after pleading guilty to a charge under the Ontario Water Resources Act (OWRA) in connection with a release of transformer oil. The incident occurred following a transformer explosion in October 2003 at the Cherrywood transformer station, operated by Hydro One. The explosion ruptured the transformer tank, which contained about 150,000 litres of mineral oil. Some of this fluid made its way from a containment area around the transformer to an internal storm sewer system, then along a ditch and into a municipal storm sewer, ultimately discharging through the city storm sewer into Pine Creek and along its banks. An assessment indicated the mineral oil impaired or was likely to impair water quality in the creek by contaminating the sediment and by fouling vegetation along the banks. The spill caused a noticeable odour and a sheen was observed on the creek surface. Hydro One spent almost $6 million to recover mineral oil and on remedial work. All but 500 litres of mineral oil was recovered, and the cleanup by Hydro One enhanced the appearance of the creek area by removing significant waste materials. The company also paid an invoice that Pickering submitted for its cleanup costs. Although there are no long-term negative impacts associated with the spill, the Ministry of Environment's investigation and enforcement branch laid a charge of causing or permitting the discharge of a material into or in any waters that may impair the quality of the water, contrary to section 30 (1) of the OWRA.

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