An investigation by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks has led to fines after it was determined that a sewage spill at a Hamilton-based health centre was not reported as quickly as possible, and there was no ministry approval for the site’s stormwater management system.
St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton is a healthcare provider that relies on maintenance services provided by Innisfree Health (Hamilton) GPCO Ltd. and its partnership known as Plenary Health Hamilton LP. Honeywell Limited is subcontracted to Plenary to provide management services at the site.
On January 22, 2020, ministry staff received a report from Honeywell of a sewage spill from a cracked pipe at the site. While Honeywell took immediate steps to respond to the spill by facilitating repairs to the cracked pipe, ministry staff discovered that Honeywell “had been aware of the spill since that morning, but had only reported the spill in the middle of the day,” according to a court bulletin.
“Honeywell had an emergency management plan in place mandating that spill events were to be reported to the ministry,” states the court bulletin. “The emergency management plan did not include the ministry’s Spills Action Centre’s phone number. After the spill, Honeywell updated its emergency management plan to include the phone number.”
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Despite the delay in reporting the spill to the ministry, Honeywell immediately secured pump trucks and remediated the spill at the site. The company also contacted the City of Hamilton to seek permission to discharge the spill to the city’s municipal storm sewer system.
During its investigation, however, ministry officials also discovered that there was no ministry approval for the health centre’s on-site stormwater management system. After ministry staff advised Plenary that the stormwater management system required ministry approval, the partnership company took immediate action and an application for approval was submitted in July 2020.
Innisfree Health (Hamilton) GPCO Ltd. was convicted of one violation under the Ontario Water Resources Act for its unapproved stormwater system. It was fined $20,000, plus a victim fine surcharge of $5,000.
Honeywell Limited was convicted of one violation under the Environmental Protection Act for the delay in reporting the spill to the Spills Action Centre. It was fined $75,000 plus a victim fine surcharge of $18,750.
Related Professional Development Course
Attend “Dealing with Environmental Emergencies and Spills” on April 25th at the CANECT 2024 Environmental Compliance and Due Diligence Training Event in Vaughan, Ontario. Attend this course to be sure of your responsibilities; implement measures to increase resiliency; avoid liability; and encourage proactive best practices. Speakers include: the Ontario Spills Action Centre, Environment and Climate Change Canada, consulting engineers, legal experts and more. Visit www.canect.net for more information.