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Ontario cat litter manufacturer fined after it delayed reporting spill 


A clumping cat litter company in Brantford, Ontario, has been fined more than $90,000 for an incident that spilled some 200 litres of a liquid scent product in 2019.

As part of the manufacturing process, Normerica, a cat litter manufacturer, adds a scent product called Clean Burst to a portion of its cat litter. On the day of the incident, the spill was allegedly caused by a drum of the scent product “being punctured on a loading dock”, according to the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP). 

However, it took nearly a month until the spill was reported, according to a court bulletin from the MECP.

Local residents had reported a “cleaning product scent” that caused irritation of the eyes and throat while in the plant’s vicinity in the days following the spill. When ministry staff contacted Normerica’s plant manager about the odour complaint, the ministry was informed that the plant “did not run anything scent-wise” for cat litter production the day prior. 

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Nearly a month following the odour complaints, a neighbouring business reported a foamy substance with a soap-like odour emerging from a sewer drain on their property. Later that day, ministry staff returned to the cat litter plant and noticed the same soap-like odour previously reported. They also observed soapy foam in a catch basin and in a ditch on Normerica’s property.

On the same day, the City of Brantford sent its own inspector to meet with the plant manager, who revealed that a spill had occurred. The city inspector advised the plant manager to report the spill to the ministry’s Spills Action Centre (SAC).

Laboratory analysis of three samples obtained by the MECP on September 11, 2019, from the storm sewer outfall and the catch basin on plant property confirmed the presence of components of Clean Burst in all three samples.

Clean Burst is classified as a combustible liquid that may cause allergic skin reactions, eye irritation, and asthma-like symptoms after inhalation.

Normerica Inc. was convicted of failing to report the spill of a pollutant in violation of the provincial Environmental Protection Act. The company was fined $75,000 plus a victim fine surcharge of $18,750, and given one year to pay.


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