When environmental penalties when first proposed, one of the big concerns of the business community was the risk of double jeopardy: giving information to the Ministry of the Environment in the hope of minimizing an environmental penalty, only to have that same information used against one in a prosecution.
In January, this issue came to court for the first time. However, the MOE decided to duck. Heico 2004 Member Inc. paid a $7800 penalty for a routine discharge from its steel mill, which failed the rainbow trout acute lethality test. The effluent caused 100% mortality in 24 hr, contravening O.Reg 214/95 (MISA: Effluent Monitoring and Effluent Limits – Iron and Steel Manufacturing). On January 21, 2010, the company also pleaded guilty to 3 EPA violations under the same regulation: failing to sample and perform required lethality and toxicity tests on its steel mill effluent. Heico was fined $5000 per count (total: $15,000 + VFS). The Crown withdrew a fourth charge that duplicated the EP the company had paid.
According to the prosecutor, “the facts did not warrant” both a prosecution and an EP. We will have to wait and see what sorts of facts do.