Companies should carefully heed the Supreme Court of
Canada's recent warning to promptly report the discharge of
contaminants to the Ministry of the Environment ("MOE"),
and may have to re-evaluate their current protocols and procedures
to ensure that any incidents are monitored, and when necessary,
reported to the appropriate regulatory bodies. Ontario's
Environmental Protection Act ("the Act")
requires that the MOE be immediately notified when a contaminant is
discharged into the environment, if the discharge was out of the
normal course of events, and if the discharge had, or was likely to
have, an adverse effect. The Supreme Court has affirmed that proof
of impairment is not required to trigger this duty to report, and
more significantly, that the duty is triggered even if the effects
of the discharge do not impair the quality of the environment. This
decision may have application outside of Ontario, because other
Canadian jurisdictions have similar statutory language.
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