February 26, 2007

Construction firm fined $15K over illegal water discharge

HAMILTON, ONT-Wesroc Construction, a Hamilton general contracting company, was recently fined $15,000 and levied a victim fine surcharge after pleading guilty to a count of causing the discharge of a material that impaired water quality, in violation of section 30(1) of the Ontario Water Resources Act. In August 2004 Wesroc was hired to install new municipal water mains on King Street East in Hamilton. This section of King Street, running between Nash Road and Pottruff Road, is located near Red Hill Creek, a watercourse into which municipal stormwater sewers drain. In September 2004, super-chlorinated water was injected into the newly installed watermains and left to stand for a minimum of 24 hours, in accordance with standard disinfection procedures. Two days later, a Wesroc employee (also a director of the company) began to drain the super-chlorinated water from the mains, pumping the liquid into what he believed was a sanitary sewer (i.e. one that discharges to the city's sewage treatment plant). The sewer was in fact a stormwater sewer that discharged into Red Hill Creek. Approximately 20 minutes after the pumping began, distressed and/or dead fish were observed in the creek near the sewer's discharge point. Upon learning of the problem, the Wesroc employee promptly stopped the pumping. The company was charged following an investigation by the Ministry of Environment. The court was told that Wesroc co-operated fully in the cleanup efforts related to this incident.

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