Nova Chemicals fined for benzene discharge

Nova Chemicals (Canada) Ltd. has been fined $550,000, plus a victim fine surcharge, after pleading guilty to discharging benzene to the air that caused an adverse effect. Nova owns and operates a manufacturing facility located at 872 Tashmoo Street in Sarnia, Ontario.

The court heard that on September 7, 2005, at approximately 7:50 pm, company emergency personnel were notified that a hydrocarbon leak had occurred at the Sarnia site. The emergency personnel were directed to take air monitoring readings in the area and elevated benzene levels were recorded. The company attempted to depressurize, contain and stop the leak, but the company was not able to repair the equipment until the next morning.

The leak had an adverse effect on neighboring industries and the Aamjiwnaang First Nation evacuated its buildings when benzene was detected in those buildings. The company was charged following an investigation by the Ministry of the Environment’s Investigations and Enforcement Branch. Nova pleaded guilty to one count of discharging or causing or permitting the discharge of a contaminant into the environment, contrary to s.14 (1) of the Environmental Protection Act. The company was fined $550,000, plus a victim fine surcharge.

Justice of the Peace Robert P. Ponton heard the case in the Ontario Court of Justice in Sarnia, Ontario, and imposed sentence on December 17, 2007.


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