UPDATE from CANADA regarding OMYA's waste case
October 29, 2003
by Michael Cassidy
A prosecution by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment against OMYA (Canada) Inc. for dumping industrial waste at OMYA's quarry in Lanark County has been postponed again and may not proceed to trial until the New Year. The two parties appeared at an Ontario Divisional Court session in Perth, Ont., on Tuesday Oct. 28 in a hearing that lasted for 30 seconds - just enough time for the judge to accept the parties' proposal for a further postponement to Nov. 25. This is the fifth or sixth time this case has come before the Divisional Court and been postponed at OMYA's request to a later date. The province appears to be considering having the case referred to a judge for a special hearing rather than continuing to have it processed in divisional court, whose main business is minor infractions and traffic offences. If referred to a judge, the case would likely proceed early in 2004.
OMYA has made substantial demands on the Crown (as the provincial side is known in a legal case in Ontario ) for disclosure of information relative to the prosecution of the company for dumping waste without a valid permit. The material disclosed from Ministry files is not automatically public but may become public after the trial if it is either entered into the court records as exhibits, or if a request is submitted to the Ministry under Ontario's Access to Information Act. Since this was a prosecution, the company was not required to make disclosure.
If OMYA is convicted, or admits an offence as part of a plea bargain, then the case will have established that the storage or dumping of waste material from OMYA's processing plant near Perth at its quarry site at Tatlock was in violation of Ontario environmental law. Substantial fines may be levied if the company is found in violation.
OMYA (Canada) is currently involved in another environmental application related to the Tatlock quarry. It is seeking an Industrial Sewage permit to allow water collecting in its quarry to be discharged into the natural environment. OMYA has had a permit to take substantial quantities of water at the quarry since the mid-1990s, but has had no permit for discharging water and other liquids into the environment.