Decision Date: November 27, 2019
Panel: Darrell Le Houillier
Keywords: Environmental Management Act – s. 115(1); Administrative Penalties (Environmental Management Act) Regulation – s. 7; permit; administrative penalty; sewage disposal system
Randy Carrell doing business as Iron Mask Trailer Park (the “Appellant”) appealed a decision issued by the Director, Environmental Management Act (the “Director”), Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy (the “Ministry”). The Appellant owns Iron Mask Trailer Park located near Kamloops, BC. Since 1995, the Appellant has held a permit authorizing the discharge of effluent from a sewage treatment system at the Trailer Park.
Following site inspections and investigations by Ministry staff from June 2016 to the end of 2018, the Director concluded that the Appellant had failed to comply with seven sections of the permit. Specifically, the Appellant failed to maintain the sewage disposal system in good working condition, perform effluent sampling and testing, and notify and report to the Ministry as required by the permit. The failure to properly maintain the system resulted in effluent being discharged that exceeded permit limits; failure to measure effluent flow led to unknown duration and loading of contaminants to the environment; and failure to report and notify interfered with the Ministry’s capacity to protect the environment and human health. The contraventions were brought to the Appellant’s attention in inspection reports and warning letters beginning in June 2016, but the Appellant failed to take adequate corrective action. The Director imposed administrative penalties totalling $24,000 against the Appellant.
The Appellant appealed the Director’s decision. The Appellant did not dispute the findings of non-compliance, but she challenged the penalties. The Appellant asked that the penalties be reduced. The Appellant submitted that she had been working to achieve compliance with the permit since the Ministry identified problems in June 2016, and the penalties were excessive for a small business with limited revenue.
The Board considered the evidence with respect to each of the applicable factors under section 7(1) of the Administrative Penalties (Environmental Management Act) Regulation for assessing the amount of each penalty. The Board agreed with the Director’s findings regarding the environmental effects and continuous nature of the non-compliances, and the Appellant’s failure to take adequate steps to address the non-compliances. The Board noted that many of the non-compliances continued even after the appeal was filed. The Board declined to consider the size of the penalties relative to the Trailer Park’s estimated revenues, because the revenue estimates were inadmissible, and were only estimates even if they had been admissible. The Board concluded that the penalties were appropriate in the circumstances, and confirmed the penalties totalling $24,000.
The appeal was dismissed.