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Laboratory fined $15,000 for Failing to Report Adverse Drinking Water Results

Court Bulletin

Laboratory fined $15,000 for Failing to Report Adverse Drinking Water Results

Convicted - SGS Canada Inc.

Location - London

Description of Offence -  The conviction relates to a laboratory failing to immediately report a prescribed adverse result of a drinking water test to the ministry and the medical officer of health.

Date of Offence - August 6, 2015

Date of Conviction - October 3, 2017

Penalty Imposed -SGS Canada Inc. was convicted of one offence under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), was fined $15,000 plus a victim fine surcharge of $3,750 and was given 120 days to pay the fine.

Background -  

  • SGS Canada Inc. (SGS) operates a lab and is authorized to perform microbiological testing of drinking water samples, including testing for total coliform. Total coliform indicates the sanitary condition of the water, including whether the water has been affected by human or animal waste or has not been properly disinfected.
  • The Hepworth Central Public School (the school) is owned by the Bluewater District School Board (the school board) in Hepworth.
  • The school takes water from a well onsite. The school's water system is classified as a small, non-municipal, non-residential drinking water system.
  • The school board has given responsibility for the school's drinking water system to WSP Canada Inc. (WSP) to act as the 'operating authority', including microbiological sampling for the school.
  • On August 4, 2015, WSP collected a drinking water samples from the school's water system and submitted them on August 5, 2015 to SGS. Microbiological testing was undertaken, and initial results on August 6, 2015 showed the sample to have a total coliform result of 2 cfu (colony forming units)/100mL. This is considered an adverse result.
  • On August 10, 2015, WSP contacted SGS to bring the adverse result to their attention. On the same date, SGS notified the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) and the Medical Officer of Health.
  • The MOECC and the Medical Officer of Health did not receive notification from SGS between August 6-9, 2015; under legislation, immediate notification is required after an adverse result is obtained.
  • The matter was referred to the ministry's Investigations and Enforcement Branch. Following an investigation the company was convicted and fined $15,000.

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