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Picton cement company fined $200,000 for environmental damage

By Mo Cranker [1]

BELLEVILLE – Picton cement company ESSROC [2] has been fined $200,000 by the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change [3] for an improper emissions discharge and failing to notify the ministry promptly when it happened.

The incident took place on April 5, 2013, the ministry said this week in announcing the penalty. A resident of the area, which is on Picton Bay, notified the ministry that dust clouds being emitted at the ESSROC plant were making it so he could not use his yard all morning and into the afternoon.

Under Ontario’s Environmental Protection Act [4], ESSROC was required to inform the ministry immediately once the plant began discharging into the environment. In fact, however, ESSROC’s notification did not come until 3½ hours  into the incident, the ministry said. Full details of the spill were not reported by ESSROC until just after 6 p.m.

In an email interview with QNet News Thursday, ministry spokesperson Lindsay Davidson said the substance emitted to the air was “particulate emissions [5].”

The ministry launched an investigation and laid charges. ESSROC pleaded guilty to two charges last Friday.

It was fined $200,000 on the charges and also handed a victim surcharge of $50,000. The surcharge, allowed under the Environmental Protection Act, is money distributed to the municipality or municipalities affected.

The company has been given 90 days to pay the fines.