Dr. Brown and his company were convicted of improper abandonment
of wells and providing false or misleading information to the Ministry of
Environment and Climate Change (MOECC), contrary to the
Ontario Water Resources Act (OWRA). They were acquitted of
two other charges under the OWRA. It appears that their clients,
Mr. James Sinclair and his company Sinclair Landing, did not
appeal. This was one of a number of prosecutions of Mr. Sinclair
and his company.
On September 6, 2007, Dr. Brown wrote a letter to the ministry
in which he advised that his firm had commissioned three test wells
on the site. This claim was false or misleading. In fact, the wells
had been commissioned by James Sinclair, whose company
Sinclair's Landing Inc. owned the site, without the involvement
of Dr. Brown or Brown Assoc. Sinclair commissioned the wells
without hiring a licenced well contractor and one of the wells was
drilled in violation of a securement order issued by the Superior
Court that prohibited Sinclair, Sinclair's Landing Inc., and
their employees or agents, from entering onto portions of the site
without prior written permission from the ministry. This securement
order had been issued as a result of Sinclair causing the discharge
of PCBs from the site and repeatedly violating ministry orders
regarding the site.
The three test wells were eventually decommissioned by Sinclair
in July 2008. Sinclair decommissioned the wells without placing
between 50 and 150 centimetres in vertical thickness of bentonite
chips, pellets, granules or powder in the well opening in
accordance with the manufacturer's specification, contrary to
Sec.21.1(1)8.i. of Regulation 903 made under the OWRA. This step is
required by Regulation 903 in order to ensure that an abandoned
well is thoroughly and flexibly sealed to prevent migration of
contaminants. Sinclair failed to add bentonite to the wells as
required because of directions given to him by Dr. Brown and Brown
Assoc. that the step was not required.
The ministry's Investigations and Enforcement Branch (IEB)
subsequently investigated these and related matters. During the
investigation, Dr. Brown wrote a letter to the investigator in
which he claimed that "Neither I nor anyone from this office
provided Mr. Sinclair with a list of material requirements or
quantities or provided any detailed prescription of work
requirements." This claim was false or misleading.
The table below provides a comparison of the fines at trial and
$35,000 + 1 yr probation
Bruce A. Brown Assoc. Ltd.
James Sinclair (client)
$8,500 + 15 days in jail
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