After an investigation by the Ministry of Environment, Conservation, and Parks, Waste Management of Canada Corp (WMCC) and Sutcliffe Septic Services Ltd. were convicted of a violation of the Environmental Protection Act in Greater Napanee.
At the capped Richmond Landfill Site in Greater Napanee, which is owned by WMCC, liquid leachate (contaminated water from the site) is usually collected by two sump chambers. According to an Ontario Government Court Bulletin, when the leachate levels are high, WMCC pumps out the sumps and uses approved trucks to transport the leachate to the local wastewater treatment plant for disposal. In emergency situations where off-site disposal was not available, excess leachate was routinely moved to an on-site temporary storage lagoon using overland piping or truck transfers, the bulletin explains.
On January 14, 2020, WMCC requested Sutcliffe Septic Services Ltd. pump some of the leachate from the sump chambers into the truck, then haul it to the temporary storage lagoon where it could be discharged safely. Reportedly, the local wastewater treatment plant was not accepting wastewater transfer dues to recent precipitation levels.
Approximately 13,000 litres of the liquid was loaded into the truck and the driver proceeded to the on-site lagoon. On arrival, the driver was concerned that the loaded truck might get stuck in the field where the lagoon is located, and contacted a WMCC employee on site. According to government documents, the driver “needed to unload the truck quickly in order to get to another, unrelated appointment.”
After some discussion, it was reported that the WMCC employee directed the Sutcliffe driver to discharge the leachate from the truck onto the ground in the field.
Two days later, on January 16, 2020, the ministry’s Kingston District Office received a phone call from WMCC. According to the bulletin, the company reported an incident where approximately 13,000 litres of industrial landfill leachate had been intentionally spilled to the ground at the Richmond Landfill Site two days earlier, as a result of a truck transfer hauling leachate to the adjacent lined storage lagoon.
The following day a ministry staff member went to the site and spoke with the site foreman who “advised that he instructed the driver to deliberately discharge the leachate waste, dumping the waste along a tree line in an unapproved area to the north on the property. The site foreman further advised that the leachate fully infiltrated into the ground after the deliberate spill,” according to the bulletin.
The matter was investigated by the Ministry’s Environmental Investigation and Enforcement Branch, which resulted in charges being laid and the conviction, which was reported on Friday, Feb. 10, 2023.
Waste Management of Canada Corp and Sutcliffe Septic Services Ltd. were convicted of one violation under the Environmental Protection Act. According to the Court Bulletin, WMCC was fined $120,000, plus a victim fine surcharge of $30,000 and was given 90 days to pay, and Sutcliffe Septic Services Ltd. was fined $25,000, plus a victim fine surcharge of $6,250 and was given 120 days to pay.
Read the full Court Bulletin here.