Decision Date: September 19, 2001
Panel: Alan Andison, Dr. Robert Cameron, Don Cummings
Keywords: Waste Management Act – ss. 27.1, 26.5(1), 26.6, 27, 35(4); remediation order, contaminated site, responsible person, personal liability, most substantial contributor, liability of corporate director or officer
Thomas Lawson appealed his inclusion as a responsible person in a Remediation Order issued by the Deputy Director on May 20, 1998.
The main issue before the Board was whether Mr. Lawson was a responsible person within the meaning of the Waste Management Act, either personally or in his capacity as president and director of Globe West Products Inc. (“Globe West”), Globe Asphalt Products Ltd., or GN Industries Inc. With respect to this issue, the Board considered a number of sub-issues. Under the first sub-issue of site contamination, the Board found, on the face of the evidence, that contamination of the site occurred both during Globe West’s tenure and during decommissioning. Under the next sub-issue relating to directors and officers, the Board made three determinations. It found that Globe West was a responsible person under section 26.5 of the Act, since contamination occurred during Globe West’s tenure at the property and because there was no dispute that Globe West was a former owner and operator of the site. The Board then held that a director or officer of a corporation that is or was an owner or operator can be deemed responsible for remediation under the Act, since one of the purposes of the Act is that beneficiaries of contamination, including directors and officers of responsible corporations, are responsible for site remediation. Lastly, the Board found that it was clear that, as a director and officer of a corporation that was owner and operator of the site, Mr. Lawson was a responsible person in relation to the site.
With regard to the third sub-issue, the Board found that Mr. Lawson could be held responsible in his own right for contamination at the site following the dissolution of Globe West in 1986. The Board concluded that he was acting in his personal capacity when he provided instructions, signed contracts, and corresponded with businesses and the owner of the site regarding the decommissioning. It was clear that Mr. Lawson held a significant degree of control over, and was responsible for approving, certain operations at the site during the decommissioning. As such, Mr. Lawson was an operator at the site, within the meaning of section 26 of the Act, and was a person responsible for remediation of the site under section 26.5(1)(b) of the Act.
The second issue the Board considered was whether Mr. Lawson could be named in the Order if he was not a most substantial contributor to the contamination. The Board stated that the Deputy Director is not limited by section 27.1(4) to naming those persons who are “most substantial contributors” to the contamination of the site. Section 27.1(1) clearly states that remediation order can be issued to any person. Therefore, the Board concluded that Mr. Lawson could be named in the Order.
Accordingly, the Board found that Mr. Lawson was properly named in the Order as a person responsible for remediation. The appeal was dismissed.