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.
- 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.