July 10, 2006

Fuel spill leads to $40K in fines for store owner, company

ARMSTRONG, ONT-J & J General Store and John Edward Lundstrom, owner of the store and the property on which it is located, recently pleaded guilty to three charges under Ontario's Environmental Protection Act (EP Act) in connection with a release of fuel from the site. Both parties were fined a total of $40,000, plus a victim fine surcharge.

J & J General Store owns and operates a Can-Op service station in the northern Ontario town of Armstrong, near Lake Nipigon. Three storage tanks are enclosed behind fencing on the property - one for gasoline, a second for diesel fuel and a third for coloured diesel fuel. In May 2004, Ministry of Environment (MOE) officers confirmed a report from an Ontario Provincial Police officer that fuel was flowing from the ground near the Can-Op service station and into neighbouring Hoodoo Creek. The MOE issued Lundstrom a provincial officer order ordering him to place a minimum of two booms into the creek to contain and absorb the fuel. A follow-up investigation found that he had not immediately installed the booms, as directed, and that water quality in the creek had been impaired and aquatic life killed as a direct result of the fuel discharge. J & J General Store pleaded guilty to one count of permitting the discharge of a contaminant into the natural environment causing an adverse effect, contrary to section 14(1) of the EP Act, and one count of failing to do everything practicable to prevent, eliminate or ameliorate an adverse effect and to restore the natural environment, contrary to section 93(1) of the Act. Lundstrom pleaded guilty to a charge under section 186(2) of the Act of failing to comply with a provincial officer order. The company was fined $15,000 for each offence, while Lundstrom was fined $10,000. Both parties were also ordered to clean up the property.

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