Recent fines cite the 2015 construction of four solar farms that released sediments into two creeks over a nine-month period
Northland Power, a Toronto-based renewable energy company, has been fined $275,000 for releasing sediment into two creeks over a nine-month period in 2015.
The company has four solar farms located north of Cochrane, which is where the two creeks are located, Northern Ontario Business reported.
In 2015, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry published a news release explaining that during the construction of these four solar farms, which took place from April to December, numerous rainfall events burdened the erosion and sediment control systems, according to Northern Ontario Business. Thus, breaches in the system allowed sediment-laden water to flow into the two nearby creeks.
Justice Michel R. Labelle of Ontario Court of Justice in Cochrane found the company guilty of two offenses under the Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act (LRIA). As a consequence, he imposed a fine of $200,000 and $75,000 for impacts on the Munroe Creek in Glackmeyer Township and Smith Creek in Calder Township, North Ontario Business reported.
According to the LRIA, “applicants must take reasonable steps to address impacts to aquatic ecosystems (e.g. biological components, hydrologic/sediment/thermal regimes), wildlife habitat, and natural amenities (e.g. shorelines, trees, beaches, wetlands).”
Additionally, the LRIA states that riparian and non-riparian owners of property “adjacent to water bodies require consideration when a proposed work has the potential to impact their property.” These considerations include temporary or permanent flooding or erosion, including normal sediment supply.
Sediment, which is a result of erosion, consists of soil particles that have been displaced. Along with erosion control, sediment control can provide protection from storm water runoff. Additionally, sediments can act as carrying agents for heavy metals, bacteria and other pollutants, and a 1972 EPA study found that erosion and sediment contribute “greatly” to surface water pollution.
Throughout this process, it was noted that allowing sediment to flow into waterways is illegal and can cause damage to the bodies of water it enters.
Labelle said the company had spent nearly $4 million to control silt charges, but said the fines were necessary to demonstrate to others “that any harm to the environment is unacceptable,” Northern Ontario Business reported.
The contractor for the project, which is separate from Northland Power, had previously pled guilty to another offense under the LRIA for effecting Munroe Creek and was fined $175,00, according to Northern Ontario Business.
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