Fines imposed on individuals for environmental offences keep
increasing. In R. v. James Douglas Diamond, Mr. Diamond
pleaded guilty to discharging anhydrous ammonia that caused an
adverse effect, and to failing to report the discharge, contrary to
the Environmental Protection Act. He was
Operations Supervisor at Black & McDonald Ltd., a contractor which
was bidding to replace the condenser unit located outside a
Chatham-Kent sports arena, and asked to be allowed access to the
refrigeration equipment so he could start planning for the job.
Mr. Diamond opened a vent valve, and purged anhydrous ammonia
gas. The ammonia reached a swimming pool next to the arena. The
lifeguards became affected by the ammonia pollution in the air
– experiencing symptoms ranging from irritated eyes and
throat to coughing, difficulty breathing, headache, queasy stomach
and disorientation. The lifeguards then evacuated the pool, and
were transported to the hospital for treatment.
Mr. Diamond's employer and the municipality were also
charged, but the charges against them were withdrawn.
Although Black & McDonald did not have a specific policy or
procedure for safe removal of ammonia from a condenser, it did have
general policies concerning handling of chemicals and hazardous
substances. As well, the company had a procedure for reporting
discharges to the MOE. Mr. Diamond failed to report the discharge
to the MOE. Instead, he reported the spill the next day, to his
Mr. Diamond was reprimanded for violating his company's
procedures by not completing a project safety plan to identify
risks before starting any work.
Mr. Diamond was fined $20,000 on each count, for a total fine of
$40,000 plus the 25% Victim Fine Surcharge.
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