A former gas station property owner was recently convicted of nine violations under the Environmental Protection Act related to petroleum hydrocarbon (PHC) contamination on-site and potential hydrocarbon migration off-site to neighboring properties and groundwater.
The property, on Highway 6 in South Bruce Peninsula, has been abandoned for several years. Owner David Sutter was living in New Brunswick at the time of his conviction.
In 2017, the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks issued an order and an amendment to Sutter, resulting from ministry concerns.
The orders required him to complete several items including hiring a qualified consultant to complete a written report detailing the extent of hydrocarbon impact, along with remediation recommendations and a detailed schedule for the implementation of recommended measures. He did not complete any of the requirements on the orders and at the time of conviction, continued to be in violation of the requirements.
In addition to his conviction, Sutter was fined $45,000, plus a victim fine surcharge of $11,250. As part of sentencing, he was issued a Section 190 Court Order which requires that he meet the demands of the original ministry orders.
According to the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, PHC is one of the most widespread soils contaminates in Canada. They consist of a wide range of organic compounds found in or derived for geological sources such as oil, coal and bitumen, including a variety of raw and refined fuels and lubricants.
PHC contamination can cause a wide variety of problems, including potential for fire/explosion hazard, toxicity to some degree for human/or environmental health, transportation of lighter PHC by groundwater or air, persistence of larger branched-chain PHC in the environment, aesthetic problems such as offensive odour, taste or appearance in air and water, degradation of soil quality that interferes with water retention and flow of nutrient supplies to plants.