According to the Hamilton Spectator, an Ontario sludge disposal has been fined $10,000 for violating the regulations of the Hamilton Conservation Authority (HCA). Oshawa-based Courtice Auto Wreckers, which also operates under the firm name Ontario Disposal, was found guilty by Justice of the Peace Wendy Casey. The case concerns 70,000 tonnes of paper-fibre sludge disposed at a site near Fletcher Creek to make berms for a shooting range.
The first conviction under the regulations, the judge applied the maximum fine available under the Conservation Authorities Act.
JP Casey found that the company also placed the sludge — which is a byproduct of paper recycling — in a provincially significant wetland in a field off Gore Road. The penalty is comprised of a fine of $2,000 and the requirement to donate $8,000 to the Conservation Foundation of Hamilton Region.
Fletcher Creek, which is one of only a few area waterways that sustain brook trout, is designated as a Class One Cold Water Fishery; the wetlands are part of Beverly Swamp. Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment took effluent samples in January and February from the discharge pipe attached to the sludge berms three of which indicated toxicity levels that would kill trout and water fleas.
The donation will be used for rehabilitation work at the Fletcher Creek Ecological Reserve near where the sludge was placed and built into berms. Courtice calls the sludge "Sound-Sorb" and markets it for gun ranges across Ontario. The company still faces two counts of failure to comply with an order from the ministry to remove the sludge.
The order was made in April, but Courtice appealed it to the Environmental Review Tribunal and remains in talks with the ministry. Property owner Anne Stafford, whose family operates a window manufacturing shop on the property, was fined one dollar. The HCA originally charged her husband, Doug, with violating fill regulations, but the 74-year-old man died in June.
The sludge remains on the Gore Road property, but is out of the fill area and out of the natural area. Sediment-control sand berms have been placed around the wetland and creek area to ensure no contamination reaches them and Courtice has installed a collection system. The company has also hired a consulting firm to develop a plan to restore the wetland and fill area; the plan should be implemented by July, 2005.
See previous articles on this topic: the cover story "Sludge Fight" (Solid Waste & Recycling magazine, December/January 2002) and the editorial "Paper, Sludge & Guns" (Solid Waste & Recycling magazine, June/July 2003).