According to Ontario’s Ministry of Environment, Conservations and Parks, in provincial court in Cobourg in May and August, fines were issued against TIP Fleet Services Canada and Walmart Canada Corp. in connection with a fuel spill on Sept. 16, 2020.
Court heard that shortly after midnight, a spill of diesel fuel occurred from a TIP trailer unit parked in the loading dock of a Walmart Supercentre in Cobourg and was in the care and control of the retailer at the time.
Around 8:40 a.m., Walmart staff contacted TIP Fleet about the incident. TIP sent a technician to the site for repairs, court heard.
However, Walmart did not notify the ministry about the spill as it believed TIP Fleet had already done so. But TIP did not notify officials until around 4:45 p.m. on Sept. 16, court heard.
The ministry notified the town about the spill. It was later determined the fuel had entered a storm sewer drain and impacted the downstream stormwater management pond.
Of note, the Town of Cobourg did not issue a public notice about the spill.
An extensive 16-day cleanup included the removal of approximately 113,000 litres of diesel fuel-impacted surface water and 77 tonnes of impacted soil, the ministry says.
“A surface water scientist with the ministry concluded that approximately 200 to 300 litres of diesel fuel entered the pond causing adverse effects, including the death of four ducks, one cormorant, and one muskrat,” the ministry stated.
The incident led to charges under the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) against both companies.
TIP Fleet was convicted one of violation under the EPA and fined $35,000 plus a victim surcharge of $8,750 for having control of a pollutant that was spilled and failing to notify the ministry.
Walmart Canada was convicted of two EPA violations — having control of a pollutant and failing to notify the ministry along with discharging, causing or permitting the discharge of a contaminant into the natural environment that causes an adverse effect. The company was fined $120,000 plus a $30,000 victim fine surcharge.
Walmart also had to pay $305 in restitution to the Soper Creek Wildlife Rescue.