Carbon Dioxide Producer fined $100,000 for Environmental Protection Act Violation
Sarnia ON (4/12/2019) – 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.
Media Contacts: Members of the media: Gary Wheeler Communications Branch 416 314-6666; Contact information for the general public: 416-325-4000 or 1-800-565-4923