Ontario chemical company fined $250,000 under environmental laws after phosphoric acid released into air
Health & Safety air quality Fines ontario
An Ontario company has been fined $250,000 under environmental protection laws after a high concentrations of phosphoric acid were released into the air, forcing employees at nearby companies to shelter in place.
Cytec Canada, which operates a chemical manufacturing facility in Niagara Falls that makes phosphine and phosphine derivatives, was hit with two charges following an investigation.
The facility has experienced flaring events in the past that have, at times, caused emissions of contaminants into the air. Modelling of flaring events are performed by the company to determine the concentration of contaminants where they meet the ground outside the boundaries of their property (point of impingement).
Modelling showed that air emissions from the facility exceeded the limit over a 24-hour averaging period established by the Environmental Protection Act on multiple occasions. The ministry’s evaluation also identified certain emissions had the potential to pose a risk to human health if they had been in the location where the contaminants meet the ground outside the boundaries of their property.
On Sept. 29, 2019, the air emission resulted in a maximum concentration of phosphoric acid of 19.2 μg/m³, whereas the limit is 7 μg/m³. During this time, employees at neighbouring companies sheltered in place.
On March 16, 2020, the air emission resulted in a maximum concentration of phosphoric acid of 12.5 μg/m³, whereas the limit is 7 μg/m³.
The ministry’s Environmental Investigations and Enforcement Branch investigated and laid charges which resulted in two convictions.
The court also added a victim fine surcharge of $62,500 on top of the $250,000 fine.