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Carbon Dioxide Producer fined $100,000 for Environmental Protection Act Violation

Court Bulletin

Carbon Dioxide Producer fined $100,000 for Environmental Protection Act Violation

Convicted - Air Liquide Canada Inc. 

Court Location - Sarnia

Description of Offence - The conviction relates to permitting the discharge of a contaminant (ammonia) into the natural environment, which was likely to cause an adverse effect.

Date of Offence - During the period on or about April 16, 2017.

Date of Conviction - March 14, 2019

Penalty Imposed - Air Liquide Canada was convicted of one violation under the Environmental Protection Act and was fined $100,000 plus a victim fine surcharge of $25,000, with eight months to pay the fine.

Background:

  • Air Liquide Canada operates a facility in the County of Lambton, which produces food grade carbon dioxide and is supplied with raw carbon dioxide from a neighbouring supplier. 
  • The carbon dioxide flows from the supplier through a dedicated pipeline, which is then liquefied and purified with the assistance of an ammonia-based refrigeration system.
  • The Air Liquide facility is staffed during daytime hours seven days a week but does not have staff on-site during the night.
  • On April 16, 2017, in the early morning hours when no staff were at the facilty, the flow of raw carbon dioxide unexpectedly increased. As a result, raw carbon dioxide exceeded the refrigeration capacity at the facility and caused approximately 815 kg of ammonia to vent through cooling system pressure release valves. 
  • Ammonia can have corrosive effects on the respiratory system and can cause severe skin burns and eye damage.
  • At a distribution plant approximately one kilometer downwind from the facility, two employees were forced to seek shelter from the ammonia odour, leaving the distribution plant unattended and creating a potentially dangerous situation. One of the employees experienced eye and throat irritation.
  • The ministry's Investigations and Enforcement Branch investigated and laid charges resulting in one conviction.

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