Metcan Industries, which manufactures synthetic slag products, was convicted of failing to report a discharge of particulate that lasted “a couple of minutes”. The company was fined $10,000 plus the $2,5000 victim fine surcharge, under the Ontario Environmental Protection Act. (It is unclear from the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change News Release why the company was fined less than the $25,000 minimum for failing to report a spill or discharge under the EPA).
As the Supreme Court of Canada advised in Castonguay Blasting Ltd. v. Ontario (Environment), “when in doubt, report”, even if the discharge does not immediately appear to be significant.
As the News Release explains, their investigation was prompted by a complaint about a brief discharge of dust that landed on neighbouring vehicles:
The ministry responded to a complaint of particulate discharge that had impacted several vehicles. The ministry attended the area and learned that a discharge of whitish grey particulate had occurred from a silo, and that the discharge had lasted a couple of minutes. The release impacted about 30 employee vehicles at two businesses, and the material on the vehicles required multiple car washes to remove.
There is no ministry record indicating the spill had been reported forthwith to the ministry by the company – the complainant was the first to report the spill.