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Oil Drum SpillIn 2008, the Ministry of the Environment imposed its first five environmental penalties for spills. Four of the five (CGC, Essar Steel, Liberty Mines, and Liqui-Box) totalled between  $8300 and $9000 each; Bruce Powerpaid $24,900 for spilling 2200 L of sodium hypochlorite into its intake channel, killing 806 fish.

The five  Environmental Penalty Orders give fascinating and useful guidance to how regulation 222/07 is being interpreted and applied. For example, the ministry takes a “worst-case” approach to determining whether a spill has been identified promptly. Bruce Power argued that it had identified its spill within 2 hours; this was rejected since the spill might have begun earlier. Liqui-Box’s submission, seeking reductions to its penalty, is particularly well organized.

Only one of the companies  challenged the MOE’s right to impose a penalty. Bruce Power contended that the intake channel was part of its power station, and that all fish in it were already doomed. Accordingly, Bruce Power argued, spills into its intake channel were not spills into protected “waters”, and cannot be  punished with a penalty. The ministry decided that artificial watercourses are “waters” protected by the Ontario Water Resources Act, regardless of the inevitable death of the fish within them, and imposed the penalty anyway.

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