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By digging behind the MOE press release we have discovered: The first environmental penalty was $9,000 for suspended solids escaping in storm water to a creek, contrary to the Ontario Water Resources Act.

CGC Inc. had a long -standing problem with suspended solids from its gypsum storage pile, and had promised (in 2006) to keep it under control. In September 2007, one sample showed suspended solids more than 600% of the 50 mg/L limit. In October, CGC reported the exceedance to the MOE, and took corrective action (French drain, silt fencing).

The discharge was a Type 1 offence, and was classified as “very serious” because the discharge limit was exceeded by > 100%. That made the penalty range $5,000 to $10,000. The MOE put the gravity of the offence at the top of the range ($10,000), because the exceedance was so large, and because the company had been convicted of two counts in the previous five years.

CGC earned a $1000 reduction in the penalty: $400 for prevention efforts (regular inspections and a formal risk analysis), and $600 for post-discharge mitigation (a spill response plan, a detailed cause analysis, additional silt fences and improved staff training/ awareness). Thus, the total: $9,000. To read the actual Penalty Order, click CGC-environmental-penalty-order.

This is an excellent example of the way EPs were supposed to work. It dealt with environmental harm; relatively quickly; and resulted in serious efforts to avoid a recurrence of the incident. The amount is noticeable but not crushing; the rationale is clear. Congratulations to all concerned.

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