In case you missed it, nearly 3 years following the event, Shell
Canada Ltd has been sentenced for a spill of "flare knock-out
liquids" at a Sarnia-area refinery. The January 2013 spill
affected members of the nearby Aamjiwnaang First Nation, who
experienced a variety of adverse health effects (including sore
eyes and throats, vomiting, nausea, headaches, and anxiety) and
were forced to respond to a "shelter-in-place"
Late last fall, Shell pled guilty to one charge under section
14(1) of the EPA for discharging a contaminant (here, an odour
containing mercaptan) into the natural environment that caused an
adverse effect. The charge had been
laid back in January 2015.
The company was fined $500,000, plus the 25 per cent victim fine
surcharge. Additionally, pursuant to section 72(3)(c) of the
Provincial Offences Act, a probation order was issued
requiring Shell to send payment of $200,000 by wire transfer
directly to Aamjiwnaang within 10 hours of the issuance of the
The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, which would
otherwise have sought a $700,000 fine, was willing to forego the
higher fine against the company given the circumstances of the
incident. This kind of arrangement, where some portion of what
would otherwise be part of a fine is diverted directly towards
those impacted as a result of an environmental infraction (or, for
example, some charitable environmental organization), is highly
unusual for the Province. It is, however, seen with some frequency
in the federal context.
Aamjiwnaang has long struggled with ill effects resulting from
its unfortunately close proximity to Sarnia's chemical valley.
The $200,000 payment to Aamjiwnaang was intended to provide the
First Nation with resources to assist its efforts in protecting the
quality of its airshed.
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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...
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