Norampac to appeal $25,000 fine

According to The Trentonian, a spokesperson for Trenton’s Norampac mill says the company will appeal a $25,000 fine and victim surcharge imposed Wednesday in Provincial Offences Court. The judge found the company guilty following several days of testimony over the past year of failing to comply with a Ministry of the Environment (MOE) requirement to order Steam Reformer Technology (SRT) for the Trenton mill to eliminate the use of a byproduct known as Dombind.

The ministry order to purchase major equipment within 15 days was made Nov. 8, 2000. At the same time the province issued orders to phase out the use of Dombind as a gravel road dust suppressant by the end of the 2002 spreading season.

Norampac argued it needed the 2003 Dombind spreading season to work out any kinks involved in implementing new Steam Reformer Technology. Environmentalists had lobbied for the elimination of the dioxin-containing byproduct, which had been used by local municipalities since 1956 as a gravel-road dust suppressant. Dioxins are believed to be a cancer-causing agent.

Norampac faced a maximum penalty for a first offence of $250,000 per day. MOE legal counsel Isabelle O’Connor called for a $75,000 fine Wednesday while Norampac legal counsel Steven Baldwin sought a $1,000 penalty; a figure Madame Justice Hickling called "completely unreasonable."

Hickling, in a brief ruling following almost an hour’s worth of presentations on the penalty, cited the former Trenton Norampac plant manager as the "problem" behind the ministry charge.

Hickling said the former manager "dug in his heels," when dealing with the ministry’s insistence that the Steam Reformer Technology equipment be purchased. O’Connor said Norampac a joint venture of Canadian paper manufacturers Domtar and Cascades was "consistently defiant in attitude" when dealing with the ministry.

"Instead of getting in front of the problem in dealing with it … it (Norampac) has dragged its feet," she said while calling the company "belligerent", "difficult" and "unco-operative to deal with."

O’Connor said Norampac was "secretive in withholding information on Steam Reformer Technology. They should have explained what Steam Reformer Technology was from the beginning and what the hold ups were in purchasing equipment. None of that came out until the trial."

O’Connor called it a "classic case" where a defendant has shown disrespect for the law and where there’s a "total absence of remorse."

"To suggest Norampac was belligerent is inaccurate and flies in the face of facts," Baldwin said.

The Trenton Norampac mill had entered into negotiations with the province to develop new technology to eliminate Dombind which shows environmental responsibility and co-operation, he said.

The result is Steam Reformer Technology, and the Trenton Mill will set a "world standard for dealing with the problem of black liquor. The (Trenton) mill had the courage to take on this project," Baldwin said.

"Norampac was under a strict time frame and complied with each and every one of its obligations," Baldwin said.

Norampac had other options including legally dumping diluted Dombind into the Trent River, or closing the plant and eliminating 150 mill and as many as 700 related forestry jobs.

He called Steam Reformer Technology "revolutionary" adding "there’s a great deal of risk involved essentially setting up from scratch."

Baldwin said the former plant manager facing substantial insurance coverage problems for the new technology because the ministry eliminated the 2003 spreading year placed a conditional, non-refundable deposit on the technology, allowing a ministry-approved 39-month implementation schedule to be maintained.

"At no time has there ever been any risk to the environment," Baldwin said. "Norampac has not been a polluter here."