A controversial bill that imposes financial penalties on industrial polluters — even if they have not been convicted of an offence — has passed third reading in the Ontario legislature.
“Bill 133 will be a valuable compliance tool to ensure that companies take measures to prevent spills and, if they do occur, that they are rectified quickly,” said Environment Minister Leona Dombrowsky. “All money collected from penalties will go to a dedicated fund to assist communities in dealing with the impact of spills.”
Bill 133 went to an all-party government committee hearing in late May. Based on representations by several environmental groups, industry and local community groups who appeared before the committee, numerous amendments were made to improve the bill.
Bill 133 allows the government to issue what are sometimes called administrative monetary penalties (AMPs) — essentially speeding tickets for spills — rather than submit incidents to a more complicated legal court process.
Bill 133 gives Ministry of the Environment directors the authority to impose a penalty of up to $100,000 a day on companies responsible for unlawful spills and emissions. The government has defended these new powers by saying that it intends to apply environmental penalties only to those facilities affected by the Municipal-Industrial Strategy for Abatement (MISA) regulations. People in other industries, including various segments of the waste management business, worry that the AMPs will soon be expanded to their sectors.
For more information, go to www.ene.gov.on.ca