MAC: Mines and Communities

Inco Fined for Three Sulpher Dioxide Releases

Published by MAC on 2003-02-14

Inco Fined Total of $375,000 for Three Sulpher Dioxide Releases

14 February 2003

Source: Canadian Home Ministry, Ottawa

Inco Limited has been fined a total of $375,000 after pleading guilty to five charges relating to sulphur dioxide releases in 1995, 1997 and 1998 from its Copper Cliff Smelter Complex in Sudbury.

The company received fines totaling $350,000 for a November 16, 1995 sulphur dioxide discharge from its Acid Plant. The Court was told that scores of people in the nearby community of Gatchell reported to hospital for treatment of symptoms including burning and watery eyes, coughing, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, headaches and difficulty walking.

In addition, the discharge caused problems at the Sudbury Memorial Hospital. Ambulances were diverted, a heart bypass operation was disrupted and there were evacuations at both the hospital and a nursing home. Businesses in Gatchell had to shut down when staff and customers could no longer remain on the premises.

For the 1995 discharge, Inco Limited was fined $325,000 for one count under section 14(1) of the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) for discharging a contaminant that caused adverse effects; $10,000 under section 5(3) of Regulation 346 (EPA) for exceeding the allowable half-hour sulphur dioxide concentration limit; and $15,000 under section 186(3) of the EPA for failing to illuminate the stack of the refinery so that any plume could be seen during non-daylight hours.

Inco Limited was also fined $10,000 after pleading guilty to one count under section 5(3) of Regulation 346 for a release on September 11, 1997. Finally, Inco Limited was fined $15,000 after pleading guilty to a further count under section 5(3) of Regulation 346 involving a sulphur dioxide release on October 5, 1998.

Victim fine surcharges were added to all of the fines. The decision was rendered by Judge Y.A. Renaud on February 12, 2003 in the Ontario Court of Justice in Sudbury.

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