January 8, 2007

Company, two individuals fined over $72K in connection with waste release from feedlot

Aylmer Meat Packers, Richard Clare and Elaine Warren have collectively been fined a total of $72,750 after being convicted of Ontario Water Resources Act (OWRA) violations dating back to 2001. The three parties owned and/or operated a feedlot in Brant County with the capacity for 3,000 cattle. Clare and the company were also co-owners/operators of an abattoir in the southwestern Ontario town of Aylmer.

Two stormwater ponds on the feedlot connected to the site's field tile drainage system. The south pond had direct access to the system, while the other had occasional access. The field tile system drained into a watercourse (which included a ditch, catchbasin and subterranean tile) that ultimately led to Kenny Creek.

In September 2001, the Ministry of Environment (MOE) responded to a complaint about a black, odorous liquid discharging from the feedlot via the tile drain. The black liquid was determined to be a mixture of water, manure and abattoir wastewater, which caused impaired water quality throughout the watercourse, including parts of Kenny Creek.

Clare was issued an order requiring that he stop the liquid from traveling further along the watercourse and that he clean up all liquid that had already drained off site. Clare hired a contractor carry out the required measures, but the contractor's work did not satisfy the requirements of the MOE order. The Ministry subsequently issued Clare, Warren and Aylmer Meat Packers a second order requiring them to hire a consultant to manage the runoff and make containment recommendations. The defendants failed to comply with this order.

Then in July 2002, MOE responded to a report of another discharge of waste material from the feedlot to the watercourse, apparently the result of a weather-generated overflow. Dead fish were observed in Kenny Creek, downstream from the area of discharge. Tests on samples of the discharge and the receiving water confirmed that the discharge was a mixture of water, manure and abattoir wastewater, as in the previous case. The overflow continued unabated for two days after it was first reported.

In the spring of 2003, the MOE issued the defendants an order requiring them to decommission the south pond, the main source of the feedlot discharges. The defendants failed to comply with the order.

Investigations of the three incidents by the MOE's investigations and enforcement branch led to the charges and subsequent conviction of the defendants on all counts, after a four-week trial.

For the September 2001 discharge, they were convicted of violating section 30(1) of the OWRA permitting the discharge of field tile drainage, which had the ability to impair water quality, into a watercourse leading to Kenny Creek. They were also convicted of six violations of section 107(2) of the OWRA relating to failure to comply with conditions of a provincial officer's order. Clare was additionally convicted of failing to cease the discharge of black liquid from the field tile drain, failing to cease the discharge of black liquid from the open ditch to the drain tile, and failing to remove all black liquid from the open ditch.

He was fined $21,000 ($3,000 for each of his seven offences), while the company was fined $20.000 ($5,000 for each of its four offences). Warren was fined $500 for the first offence, and received suspended sentences for the remaining three offences.

For the July 2002 matter, all three parties were convicted of permitting the discharge of feedlot runoff, an offence under section 30(1) of the OWRA. The company was fined $7,500; Clare was fined $3,000; and Warren was fined $250.

With respect to the spring 2003 order to decommission the south pond on the feedlot, all defendants were convicted of violating a provincial officer's order by failing to decommission the pond, another offence under section 107(2) of the OWRA. The corporation was fined $15,000; Clare was fined $5,000; and Warren was fined $500. A 25% victim fine surcharge was levied on all fines as well. are exclusive of the 25 per cent victim fine surcharge. Further legal action will determine whether a court order is required to ensure the decommissioning of the south pond at the feedlot.

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