Aecon Construction and Materials Ltd. pleaded guilty to two offences and was fined $120,000 for discharging a material into water that may impair the quality of the water and failing to report the discharge, contrary to the Ontario Water Resources Act (OWRA). The company was also issued a Court Order requiring that a fish habitat embayment is constructed within the Rideau River watershed.
Aecon Construction and Materials Ltd. operates a construction business and builds major infrastructure projects across Canada.
According to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC), a renewable energy approval was issued to Northland Power Solar McCann Inc. on February 29, 2012, to construct and operate the McCann Solar Project, a 10 megawatt solar generation facility located on McCann Road in the Township of Rideau Lakes. The project site is located a few hundred metres to the south of Hudson Bay on Big Rideau Lake.
Northland Power Solar McCann Inc. contracted the company to build the project and construction commenced in mid-2012 and continued throughout 2013.
According to the MOECC, it received complaints on January 31, 2013 and April 15, 2013, that sediment laden stormwater and runoff was being discharged into Hudson Bay on Big Rideau Lake and that the source was believed to be construction activities at the McCann Project. The MOECC said its staff was provided assurances that measures would be taken to address the discharges.
The MOECC said it received another complaint regarding the discharge of sediment laden water on May 23, 2013.
A ministry provincial officer conducted an inspection and observed significant sediment outside of the project’s fenced area and water in the watercourse was discoloured.
The officer then examined Hudson Bay in Big Rideau Lake and observed that the southern portion of the bay exhibited a brown discolouring.
Samples found concentrations of total suspended solids (TSS) that significantly exceeded water quality guidelines. Suspended solids may potentially impair water quality and can potentially kill fish.
The matter was referred to the ministry’s Investigations and Enforcement Branch and, following an investigation, charges were laid.
On February 8, 2017, Aecon Construction and Materials was convicted of two offences, was fined $120,000 plus a victim fine surcharge of $30,000 and was given one year to pay the fine. The company was also issued a Court Order to ensure that a fish habitat embayment is constructed in the Rideau River Watershed at a cost to the company that shall be no greater than a maximum of $150,000, either in direct expenditures or in-kind services billed on a cost recovery basis.
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