The authors wish to thank Mark Youden, Student-at-Law, for his
contributions to this article.
On April 13, 2015 a homeowner from Apex, Nunavut was ordered
to pay the Government of Nunavut $55,000 in restitution for clean
up expenditures resulting from environmental damage caused by a
home heating oil tank leak. Ms. Simonsen was also fined $500, which
marks the first time an individual has been fined under
Nunavut's Environmental Protection Act for a discharge
of fuel oil into the environment.
In January 2011, Ms. Simonsen's tank leaked about 600 litres
of fuel into the environment. The fuel oil discharge flowed to the
edge of Apex Creek, which is connected to tidewater in the
Koojessee Inlet. As a result, the Government of Nunavut ordered Ms.
Simonsen to clean up the spill. Due to her failure to comply with
the order the Government of Nunavut was required to take action and
remediate the spill, at a cost of almost $200,000.
On April 13, 2015 Ms. Simonsen plead guilty to a charge under
Nunavut's Environmental Protection Act. Under the Act,
the maximum fine for this type of an offence is $300,000. The
$55,000 restitution order and $500 fine represent a general
deterrent and a reminder of homeowners' responsibilities
associated with outdoor fuel tanks. Given Nunavut's harsh
weather, homeowners must diligently check their fuel tanks for
signs of leakage. Homeowners should also be aware of their
insurance coverage for fuel tank leaks associated with wear and
tear from Arctic winters. Unfortunately, Ms. Simonsen's
insurance did not cover the fuel leak.
John Donihee, B.Sc., M.E.S., LL.B.,
LL.M.,is one of Canada's foremost experts in
environmental, regulatory, administrative and Aboriginal law in
Canada's North and a member of Willms & Shier's
Northern Team. John's particular focus is on land claims
implementation and modern treaties in the North.
Julie Abouchar, BSc., LL.B., LL.M.,is a partner at Willms & Shier Environmental Lawyers LLP in
Toronto and a member of the firm's Northern Team. Julie is
certified as a Specialist in Environmental Law by The Law Society
of Upper Canada. She has been named annually by her peers to Best
Lawyers in Canada, Environmental Law and Energy Regulatory Law and
rated Repeatedly Recommended in the Canadian Legal Lexpert
Directory, Aboriginal Law and Environmental Law.
Charles (Chuck) J. Birchall, B.A. (Hons.), LL.B.,
LL.M., is a partner at Willms & Shier
Environmental Lawyers LLP in Ottawa and a member of the firm's
Northern Team. Chuck has over 25 years of legal experience devoted
exclusively to environmental law and is certified as a Specialist
in Environmental Law by The Law Society of Upper Canada. Chuck
provides advice on a variety of environmental compliance matters,
as well as on energy law and Aboriginal consultation issues. Chuck
has particular experience advising on environmental assessment
issues raised by mining, oil and gas, energy and
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guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
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