Part of McGuinty Government's Initiatives For a Greener, Healthier
TORONTO, June 8 /CNW/ - The McGuinty government has finalized regulations
that set the toughest penalty regime in Canada for those companies that spill,
a further measure taken to protect Ontario's water sources. The threat of
penalties gives industry one more reason to go above and beyond to prevent
industrial spills to land and water, Environment Minister Laurel Broten
"Industry needs to take every precaution to prevent our environment and,
more specifically, our drinking water from being polluted," Broten said,
adding that the aim of the penalties is to encourage companies to comply with
environmental laws. "Now it's the law of the land that if you spill, you pay."
The new regulations:
- outline the scope, assessment and implementation of environmental
- outline how funds raised through penalties can be used for community
- describe the requirements for spill prevention and spill contingency
- formalize the requirements for notifying the ministry of a spill.
The regulations also outline how funds raised through penalties can be
used. A community environment fund was created by the Environmental
Enforcement Statute Law Amendment Act passed in June 2005 to help communities
affected by spills with environmental remediation and restoration projects.
Projects considered for funding would represent projects over and above those
directly related to spill cleanup, as industry is already required by law to
pay all such costs.
These penalties, similar to those in New Jersey and California, apply to
the companies in nine industrial sectors operating 148 facilities in Ontario
that have been responsible for a significant number of spills to land and
water each year. The ministry consulted extensively with industry
representatives, environmental, community and health groups on the regulations
that make the legislation effective.
"Industrials spills affect the quality of life in Ontario communities,"
said Broten. "We're confident that environmental penalties will reduce the
number and severity of spills and protect Ontarians' health and the
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ENVIRONMENTAL PENALTIES REGULATIONS HELP TO PROTECT
Environmental penalties regulations will help to reduce industrial spills
in Ontario by giving the Ministry of the Environment the power to impose
monetary penalties on companies that spill to land and water. Additional
regulations require facilities subject to environmental penalties to prepare
spill prevention and contingency plans and codify spill reporting requirements
already in practice.
The Environmental Enforcement Statute Law Amendment Act, formerly
Bill 133, passed in June 2005, amended the Environmental Protection Act (EPA)
and the Ontario Water Resources Act (OWRA). These amendments allow the
Ministry of the Environment to impose financial penalties in response to
unlawful industrial spills, unlawful discharges and other related
Previously, the ministry could only attempt to prosecute those
responsible for serious spills. Court actions will continue to be necessary in
some circumstances, but such proceedings can be lengthy and expensive.
Environmental penalties give the ministry a remedy that can be applied
swiftly, to encourage quick and effective compliance with Ontario's
The regulations, filed on June 6, outline the facilities, and the types
of violations that will be subject to environmental penalties, as well as how
the penalties will be calculated and how the funds raised can be used.
Penalties will be assessed for the violations identified in the regulations
starting August 1, 2007.
Industrial Facilities Subject to Environmental Penalties
Environmental penalty regulations will apply to 148 facilities in nine
Municipal Industrial Strategy for Abatement (MISA) industrial sectors whose
operations discharge directly into a surface water body. The nine MISA
industrial sectors include petroleum, iron and steel, industrial minerals,
inorganic chemicals, organic chemicals and pulp and paper. They also include
metal mining, metal casting, and electric power generation facilities.
Environmental penalties will not apply to municipalities, agricultural
operations or food processing facilities and will only apply to land and water
violations at this time.
The facilities that are subject to environmental penalties account for a
significant portion of reported industrial spills to land and water from year
to year. In 2003, these operations accounted for 30 per cent of reported
industrial spills to land and 64 per cent of reported industrial spills to
water. In 2004, they accounted for 30 per cent of reported industrial spills
to water and 37 per cent of reported industrial spills to land.
Calculation of Environmental Penalties
The amounts assessed against companies that violate the law will be based
on a number of factors related to the type of violation and the seriousness of
the violation. Types of violations include improper reporting and
record-keeping, exceeding discharge limits of certain substances and unlawful
spills. Average penalties are expected to be about $1,000 for administrative
violations and $10,000 to $20,000 for unlawful spills and spill-related
The amount of an environmental penalty would be determined by an
- the gravity, or the seriousness of the violation and its consequences
- the monetary benefit, if any, that the facility gained from
non-compliance with Ontario's environmental laws and
- the number of days the violation continues.
The presence of a toxic substance in an unlawful spill or unlawful
discharge increases the gravity portion of the penalty by 35 per cent. The
"Environmental Penalties - Code of Toxic Substances" provides a list of
113 toxic substances that would result in such an increase.
Caps, Reductions and Settlement Agreements
There are some caps on penalties to ensure the penalty framework system
is not punitive, but provides a deterrent to violating Ontario's environmental
While most major violations, like unlawful spills, are not capped,
failing to report a spill is capped at a $100,000 for multi-day violations.
All minor violations are capped at $60,000 or the calculation for a 180-day
violation, whichever is less.
The gravity portion of the penalty can be reduced by up to 35 per cent
if, at the time of the violation, preventative and mitigative measures to
prevent spills and other violations had been taken, and an environmental
management system was in place.
Entering into a settlement agreement can lead to a reduction in an
environmental penalty amount through an investment in an environmental
project. Such a project must be undertaken at the facility in violation, and
must take the facility beyond compliance with the law while aiming to yield
environmental and/or human health benefits.
Facilities would be eligible for reductions of up to 100 per cent of
penalty amounts for minor violations and up to 75 per cent in reductions for
major violations. Any amounts assessed as a monetary benefit the facility
gained from the violation, are not included in any calculations for any caps
Phased Approach to Implementation
Penalties will be phased in, allowing industry 16 months to fully adapt
to the penalty structure. In the first phase, starting August 1, 2007,
penalties will apply only to major violations such as spills and discharge
exceedences. In the second phase, to be implemented December 1, 2008, other
violations will also be subject to penalties. These violations include failure
to have or operate in accordance with any industrial sewage works approval.
Community Environmental Fund
Revenue collected from environmental penalties will be deposited into a
Special Purpose Account. All revenue collected will be made available to
communities impacted by spills for remediation, restoration and related
purposes. Environmental proposals from community organizations will be
accepted every year and will be assessed by technical experts to ensure they
meet the criteria. As the Environmental Protection Act already requires
polluters to compensate for losses or damages that result from spills, the
fund will not be required for compensation of the victims of spills and
The ministry consulted widely with industry, environmental community and
health organizations and the public during the development of the Act and the
Consultations identified a high level of interest in the process and
included a consultation paper outlining objectives and guiding principles that
was posted on the Environmental Bill of Rights Registry (EBR), and broad based
The regulations now in place were developed with the input of a
stakeholder working group. Draft regulations were also posted on the EBR and
all comments were considered as the regulations were finalized.
Contact information for media:
John Steele (416) 314-6666
Ministry of the Environment
Contact information for the general public:
416-325-4000 or 1-800-565-4923/ www.ontario.ca/environment
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For further information:
For further information: Contact information for media: John Steele,
(416) 314-6666, Ministry of the Environment; Anne O'Hagan, (416) 325-5809,
Minister's Office; Contact information for the general public: (416) 325-4000
or 1-800-565-4923, www.ontario.ca/environment