McGuinty Government To Make Polluters Pay For Spills
New Law Would Introduce Tough Penalties, Create Community Cleanup Fund
TORONTO -- The government is getting tough with companies responsible for spills that damage the environment and compromise the health of Ontarians, said Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty.
"Our commitment to safe, clean, livable communities means holding polluters accountable for spills," said Premier McGuinty. "In the coming weeks, we'll introduce legislation that would ensure polluters face immediate consequences for their actions. Our message to polluters is simple: You spill, you pay."
The proposed legislation would impose environmental penalties of up to $20,000 a day for individuals and $100,000 a day for corporations. Unlike fines, which are handed down by the courts, these penalties would be assessed by Ministry of the Environment officials within a few days of an unlawful spill. The new system encourages companies to make greater efforts to prevent spills and provides additional incentives to clean them up quickly.
When a penalty has been imposed, polluters could still face prosecution. The proposed legislation would also hold corporate officers and directors more accountable. A conviction could result in sentences ranging from fines against a company to up to five years of jail time for its directors and officers.
"The vast majority of Ontario's companies are responsible corporate citizens," said Environment Minister Leona Dombrowsky. "It's only fair to them that we target companies who fail to live up to their responsibilities to the environment and who put the health of Ontarians at risk."
The legislation would also create a special community cleanup fund. The Province and municipalities would use the fund to clean up spills and repair environmental damage.
"We're transforming our approach to industrial polluters," said Premier McGuinty. "We're doing this because it will help build the kind of Ontario we all want -- a province where our industries are world leaders in environmental responsibility and where our communities are clean, safe and healthy."