Neighbours of the notorious Sydney tar ponds expect their class
action to be certified this month. The neighbours want to sue the
Federal and Provincial governments for exposing them to
contaminants from the old Sysco steel plant, coke works and tar
ponds. The motion judge required the would – be
plaintiffs to come back with a narrower definition of the class and
a revised litigation plan, which he will rule on mid-month.
The case has many ironies. For one, the Sysco plant was kept
operating (and polluting) long after it should have closed, by huge
federal subsidies. This was political pork to preserve coal-mining
and steel making jobs (and property values) in Nova Scotia, paid
for largely by taxes from outside Nova Scotia.
For another, the Federal and Provincial governments are now
spending more hundreds of millions cleaning up the waste left
behind by this hugely inefficient, plant. It would have been
cheaper to buy out the plaintiffs than to do the cleanup; now the
rest of the country may have to do both.
The most interesting part of the judgment will be how it treats
pollution impacts on human health. Until now, Canadian judges have
refused to certify class actions for health damage from long term
pollution. The MacQueen plaintiffs hope to surmount this obstacle
by seeking damages for battery, i.e. for exposure to harmful
pollutants, rather than for the health damage that may have
resulted. If they succeed, it would create an important precedent
for communities across Canada who are exposed to chronic air or
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
Ontario's Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change continues to roll out its Climate Change Action Plan with its proposed GHG guide for projects that are subject to the province's Environmental Assessment Act.
The Imperial Oil refinery pled guilty to one offence for discharging a contaminant, coker stabilizer, thermocracked gas, into the natural environment causing an adverse effect and was fined $650,000...
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).