Austin Powder Ltd. has been fined $130,000 after pleading guilty to discharging “fly rock” from a quarry blasting site into the natural environment. This fly rock caused off-site impacts, and the company failed to report the discharges as required in the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) ( Note: fly rock meets the definition of a “contaminant” under the EPA).
Austin Powder Ltd (located in New Brunswick with an office in Burlington, Ontario) provides quarry-blasting services. According to a report by the Ontario Ministry of Government Services, in the summer of 2009, Austin Powder was contracted to provide quarry blasting services to a company that owns and operates a limestone quarry near Arnprior, Ontario. The quarry is licensed under the Aggregates Resources Act.
The report also states that on July 20 and 23, 2009, “…during blasting fly rock was discharged beyond the control area of 200 metres. In the first incident, a small rock struck a worker at a neighbouring business on the arm. In the second incident, rocks were observed flying well beyond the control area. A scale house located 230 metres from the blast was struck by a number of rocks. Two vehicles held at a controlled stop along nearby Young Road on the edge of the quarry property located about 300 metres from the blast were also struck by rock resulting in extensive damage. There were no injuries even though the blast damaged property and impaired the safety of people.”
As a result of this discharge, Austin Powder was fined $65,000 on each of the two offences, for a total of $130,000 plus victim fine surcharges totalling to $32,500. The company was given six months to pay the fine.
So as you consider your operations and various contaminates/discharges, keep in mind that as the Supreme Court of Canada recently stated on a similar case, “when in doubt report.”
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If you have questions or require assistance with an environmental permit, please contact Andrew Tymec, P. Eng. (firstname.lastname@example.org) at 519-979-7300, ext 118.