Two companies, Consbec Inc. and Bruman Construction Inc., were
fined a collective total of $150,000 for failing to notify the
Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change ("MOECC")
of a fly-rock discharge.
Bruman owns and operates an aggregate quarry located in North
Bay. Consbec was hired by Bruman to engage in controlled blasting
at the quarry. On the afternoon of May 28, 2014, one of
Consbec's controlled blasts resulted in fly-rock being
projected outside the blasting area and onto a neighbouring
residential property, approximately twenty-five (25) feet from
where the homeowner and an employee of Bruman were standing. The
fly-rock did not cause any property damage and no one was
The homeowner contacted the MOECC to notify of the fly-rock
discharge from the quarry. Neither of the companies involved
contacted the MOECC.
On November 20, 2015, Bruman pled guilty to failing to notify
the MOECC and fined $25,000 plus the 25% victim fine surcharge. On
September 13, 2016, Consbec pled guilty to the same offence and
fined $125,000 plus the 25% victim fine surcharge.
Fly-rock is considered a contaminant under the Environmental
Protection Act ("EPA"). Section 14 of the
EPA prohibits the discharge of a contaminant into the natural
environment. A contaminant is defined under the EPA as something
resulting from human activities that causes or is likely to cause
an adverse effect. Section 15 of the EPA requires all persons to
notify the MOECC if they discharge a contaminant into the natural
environment, out of the normal course of events, and the discharge
causes or is likely to cause and adverse effect. What constitutes
an adverse effect is broadly defined in the EPA.
The Section 15 duty to report applies only to discharges of a
contaminant into the natural environment (air, land or water). The
requirement that the discharge be "out of the normal course of
events" excludes routine and day-to-day business activities
from the obligation to report to the MOECC under this provision.
However, under section 92 of the EPA, "spills" must be
reported to the MOECC forthwith even if no adverse effect has or
occurred or is likely to occur unlike section 15 and only applies
to "pollutants" (not all contaminants). A spill is
defined in the EPA as the release of a pollutant into the natural
environment, from a structure, vehicle or other container, that is
abnormal in quality or quantity. A pollutant means a contaminant
but does not include heat, sound, vibration or radiation. A
contaminant however is defined broadly in the EPA as any solid,
liquid, gas, odour, heat, sound, vibration, radiation or
combination of them resulting directly or indirectly from human
activities that cause or may cause an adverse effect.
It is important to report spills and discharges, as there is a
pattern of increasing fines for failing to report a discharge or
spill. In its decision in R v Castonguay Blasting, 2013 SCC 52, the
Supreme Court of Canada confirmed that when in doubt, a company
should report discharges to the Spills Action Centre –
416-325-3000, 1-800-268-6060 (toll-free), or 1-855-515-2759
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