January 22, 2007

Imperial Oil fined $375K for fuel leak leading to groundwater contamination

KINGSTON, ONT-Imperial Oil recently pleaded guilty in connection with a release of gasoline from a service station on Highway 401 in Odessa and was fined $375,000, plus a victim fine surcharge. Operation of the station includes daily maintenance of an inventory control record to track gasoline tank volumes. This allows any variances to be detected quickly. Beginning in February 2003, the inventory control record began showing variances that exceeded the company's threshold for investigation. In February 2004 a fuel line leak was discovered at the station, and was reported immediately to the Ministry of Environment (MOE). By that time, however, approximately 62,000 litres of fuel had discharged into the environment, contaminating the groundwater supplying a number of homes located close to the station. Following an investigation by the MOE's investigations and enforcement branch, Imperial Oil was charged with permitting the discharge of fuel into the natural environment, contrary to section 14(1) of Ontario's Environmental Protection Act (EP Act). After the leak was discovered, and throughout the investigation, the company co-operated fully with the MOE. Monitoring of the groundwater continues in the vicinity of the service station, and results indicate that the groundwater quality is improving.

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