Environment Canada reports that Panther Industries (Alberta) Inc. pleaded guilty on July 28, 2015 in Alberta Provincial Court to offences under the Fisheries Act, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA, 1999), and the Environmental Emergency Regulations, related to a spill of hydrochloric acid (HCl) into the environment and into water frequented by fish.
This is the first conviction for an offence under the Environmental Emergency Regulations.
Environment Canada’s investigation determined that on December 9, 2012, 150,000 litres of HCl spilled through a broken sight glass on a storage tank system at the Panther Industries (Alberta) Inc. site in Edmonton, Alberta.
Of the 150,000 litres spilled, an estimated 40,000 litres of HCl overflowed the secondary containment and, of that amount, approximately 5,000 litres entered a nearby creek resulting in a fish kill. A valve between two HCl tanks had been left open, increasing the total amount spilled. An acid cloud formed as a result of the spill, necessitating an evacuation of the surrounding area to ensure public safety.
The company was ordered to pay a total penalty of $375,000, including a $5,000 fine and $370,000 to be paid to the Environmental Damages Fund (EDF). The payment to the EDF was comprised of:
- $170,000 for depositing a deleterious substance into water frequented by fish, contrary to the Fisheries Act;
- $150,000 for failing to take all reasonable measures to prevent or mitigate negative effects resulting from an environmental emergency contrary to CEPA, 1999;
- $50,000 for failing to have an adequate emergency plan, contrary to the Environmental Emergency Regulations
The Environmental Emergency Regulations, made under CEPA 1999, aim to enhance the protection of the environment and human health from environmental emergencies by promoting prevention, preparedness, response and recovery.
As a result of this conviction, the company’s name will be added to the Environmental Offender’s Registry.
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