1 minute of smoke pollution from its Hamilton blast furnace has cost US Steel a $150,000 fine, plus 25% Victim fine surcharge. This may be Canada’s highest air pollution fine, per minute of emission.
US Steel now owns and operates the former Stelco steel mill in Hamilton. During a power outage, smoke was emitted from a blast furnace for one minute in July 2008. The black particulate blew over neighbourhoods in the Hamilton Harbour area. A coarse, gritty black material was found on boats, cars, outdoor furniture and homes. Four people reported
breathing difficulties and a storage facility suffered $13,000 in damages to freshly painted tanks. Similar discharges occurred on 3 additional days that summer.
The Ministry of the Environment launched a prosecution. US Steel pleaded guilty to one count of discharging black particulate matter, contrary to section 14 of the Environmental Protection Act and was fined $150,000 (plus 25% victim fine surcharge). Other companies have been prosecuted for very brief air emissions that caused significant adverse effects, such as Inco’s three-minute discharge of sulfur trioxide in 1987, but fines were much lower then.
by Jackie Campbell and Dianne Saxe