City of Hamilton faces provincial charges for 4-year spill into Chedoke Creek

Ontario's Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) has extended the deadline for targeted dredging of Chedoke Creek through December 31, 2022. Don Mitchell / Global News Hamilton

The City of Hamilton is facing multiple charges in connection to the four-year, 24-billion litre sewage and stormwater spill into Chedoke Creek.

On Wednesday, the city’s lawyers said they were reviewing accusations from the ministry of the environment (MECP) in the latest chapter of an ordeal that started in 2014 – when a gate was left partially open in a combined sewer overflow (CSO) tank.

“At this time, the City is reviewing the charges and associated materials received from the MECP. The City will provide further updates once it has had the opportunity to review all relevant documentation,” the city said in a release on Wednesday.

The charges come almost two weeks to the day the city requested more time to deal with an order from the province to clean up Chedoke Creek and Cootes Paradise.

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In mid-November, the MECP told the city to undertake remedial measures to alleviate environmental impacts on Chedoke Creek and Cootes Paradise after its own experts claimed the water quality continues to be impaired or may become impaired due to the continued release of contaminants into the waterways.

Part of the province’s orders included “spot dredging” to clear clogged channels in the waterways.

Click to play video: 'Hamilton City Council accused of “cover-up” of sewage leak'
Hamilton City Council accused of “cover-up” of sewage leak

The city questioned if the deadline set for Jan. 22, 2021, was a reasonable time frame to adequately develop a plan and begin the cleanup.

Earlier in 2020 two independent environmental reports, passed on to the MECP by the city in February and April, suggested remediation was not advisable.

One of the assessments, from SLR Consulting released in February, suggested dredging the creek bottom would harm whatever wildlife still survives, adding that future sewer overflows during storms will just “recontaminate” the area.

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In response to the report, the city enhanced its monitoring program and has been regularly updating the province through a consulting agency.

The city also claims it has removed 242,000 litres of “floatable material” from the surface and edge of the creek in addition to allocating staff to provide routine inspections of the municipality’s water infrastructure since the spill.

Hamilton is also facing charges for “odour issues” at the city’s central composting facility on Burlington Street East. In late November, the city says it received a summons from the Ontario court of justice to answer for the alleged discharging or permitting the discharge of a contaminant contrary to the Environmental Protection Act.

That case is tied to the voluntary closure of the central composting facility in June 2018 after numerous complaints about odours from residents in the surrounding area.

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