September 18, 2006

Moving truck owner, driver fined $11K in connection with diesel fuel spill

KINGSTON, ONT-Frank Ross, the owner of a moving truck, and Ross's employee Jason Howe were fined a total of $11,000, after pleading guilty to violating Ontario's Environmental Protection Act (EP Act) and the Ontario Water Resources Act (OWRA). In October 2004, Ross dispatched his truck, driven by Howe, to 165 Ontario Street, in Kingston. As driver, Howe was legally the person in charge of both the truck and the move. While the truck was being loaded at this location, a leak in the truck's 150-gallon diesel tank caused fuel to spill onto the roadway and into a nearby stormwater catchbasin. The spilled fuel flowed into Confederation Basin in Lake Ontario, creating a slick on the surface between the storm water outflow and the waterfront in and around the municipal marina and the Radisson Hotel. While the spill was occurring, Howe did nothing to stop or abate it. City of Kingston staff deployed booms to contain the spill, which had the potential to foul boats and docks in the harbour. The cleanup activities took several days, at a total cost of approximately $3,200. Howe subsequently notified Frank Ross of the spill, but neither of them reported it to the Ministry of Environment (MOE), as is required. An investigation by the MOE's investigations and enforcement branch led to charges against the two men. They each pleaded guilty to one count of: permitting the discharge of diesel fuel into the waters of Lake Ontario, which may have impaired the quality of the water, contrary to ORWA section 30(1); and failing to notify the MOE of a discharge or escape of fuel into the lake, in violation of OWRA section 30(2). Howe also pleaded guilty to a charge under section 93(1) of the EP Act of failing to do everything practicable to prevent, eliminate and ameliorate the adverse effect of the spill, and to restore the natural environment. Ross was fined $8,000, plus victim fine surcharge, for the first count, and received a suspended sentence for the second count. Howe was fined $3,000, plus victim fine surcharge, for the third count, and received suspended sentences for the first and second count.

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