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The Ontario Court of Justice has acquitted a company that spilled caustic soda on a road, on the grounds that the spill did not cause an adverse effect.

UBA Inc. was charged with discharging  70 gallons of caustic soda that caused, or was likely to cause an adverse effect, contrary to section 14 of  Ontario’s Environmental Protection Act. This spill occurred when a truck pressure seal ruptured in an industrial area. As a result, the road was closed to through traffic for the day, while the cleanup took place. Employees of local businesses were allowed to pass. There was no proof of loss of income by any of the businesses in the area. No people, plants, animals, or other sensitive environmental receptors were harmed.

Justice Sharon Woodworth ruled that the only evidence of any adverse effect is so trivial or minimal that it should not attract penal consequences. She also agreed that UBA had used due diligence to prevent such spills, because its rupture discs met industry standards and had never failed before under such circumstances. The fact that additional measures might have been able to prevent the spill was not material; the company was required to use reasonable diligence, not to meet a standard of perfection. For a copy of the decision, click UBA Judgment – June 2-09.

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