Four companies have been jointly convicted and fined a total of $1.1-million – one of the highest penalties in 20 years – under Ontario’s Environmental Protection Act.
The companies – 310 Waste Ltd., Rail Cycle Inc. and the numbered companies 2020700 Ontario Inc. and 2020780 Ontario Ltd. – were sentenced Monday for causing adverse effects to residents as a result of a 2004 fire at a waste disposal site in Vaughan.
The fire burned for more than two weeks, sending up large plumes of smoke and affecting neighbouring schools and homes in Vaughan and Maple. The court heard that the companies, which all operated the site, had stored more than 1,500 tonnes of waste – 10 times the approved amount for the site. The cleanup cost Vaughan more than $1-million.
The companies have 60 days to pay the fine, plus a victim fine surcharge.
“It is a significant amount …and we hope it acts as a deterrent and encourages others to take environmental protection seriously,” said Ministry of the Environment spokeswoman Kate Jordan on Tuesday.
This is the second time the companies have been convicted for negligence in the Vaughan fire. In 2008, the companies and three men were convicted and fined $1.7-million but successfully appealed the decision. A new trial commenced in 2010 and concluded Monday with the verdict.
Ms. Jordan said the same three individuals in the first trial – Robert Sansone, Edmon Hanna and Guido Titton – have also been convicted but will be sentenced at a later date.