Earlier this month, a truck driver pleaded guilty to failing to provide notice of a diesel fuel spill to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (“MOECC”). He was fined $8,000 (plus the 25% victim fine surcharge of $1,250) for the offence, and ordered to pay $10,950.07 in restitution to the fuel station that cleaned up the spill.
The individual charged was employed as a truck driver by a Stoney Creek company. On an overnight stop in Dryden Ontario, between 100 and 200 litres of diesel fuel leaked from the truck. When the driver awoke and exited his cab, he noticed the fuel and inspected the truck for the source of the leak. He then got back into the truck and drove away without taking any measures to contain the spill or notify the MOECC of the spill. All of this was captured on security footage at the fuel station where he stopped.
The fuel station staff contained and arranged for the professional clean-up of the spill, and also reported it to the MOECC.
Under the Environmental Protection Act (EPA), a “person having control of a pollutant that is spilled and every person who spills or causes or permits a spill of a pollutant” is required to forthwith notify the MOECC and the municipality where the spill has occurred, and is required to explain the circumstances of the spill and actions that the person has taken or will take related to the spill. Under the EPA, persons with control of the spill also have a duty to forthwith prevent, eliminate and ameliorate a spill that causes or is likely to cause an adverse effect.
This reporting duty is taken very seriously by the MOECC. It frequently seeks convictions for persons who fail to report a spill, and this is yet another example. For more information about reporting obligations, you can read more here.