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Cytec Canada fined $200,000 for Environmental Protection Act Violations

Christian Fernsby |
Cytec Canada Inc. was convicted of two violations under the Environmental Protection Act.

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Sentencing was adjourned until December 14, 2020, at which time Cytec Canada Inc. was fined a total of $200,000, plus a victim fine surcharge of $50,000, with one year to pay.

Cytec Canada Inc. is a company that operates a chemical manufacturing facility in Niagara Falls and produces phosphine and phosphine derivative products for use in mining, electronics and agricultural fumigation.

Two companies that border the Cytec Canada facility were affected during odour releases reported to the ministry on July 5, 2017 and on April 16, 2018. On July 5, 2017, Cytec reported the first discharge event to the ministry's Spills Action Centre.

The cause of the event was indicated as a "safety valve upset" and resulted in a strong odour discharge that lasted about 200 minutes.

In order to assess impacts, ministry staff reached out to Cytec's neighbouring businesses and two companies indicated that their facilities had been encompassed by a "vapour" or "cloud" from the discharge.

The first neighbouring company reported that they had brought staff indoors and limited operations during the event. No employees reported irritation or other health concerns.

The second neighbouring company reported that six staff members were physically impacted with symptoms that included dry/irritated/sore throat, nausea, chest irritation and a general feeling of "unwell". None of the affected employees sought medical attention nor lost time from work.

During the investigation, the chemical discharge was determined to be Phosphorous Pentoxide, which is known to cause the physical symptoms indicated by the neighbouring company employees.

On Monday, April 16, 2018, Cytec contacted the ministry to report a second discharge event which had resulted in an odour complaint to Cytec from a neighbouring business.

In reports back to the ministry, Cytec indicated that the source of the odour was an open vent on a Cyclo-Octadiene tank which remained open for several hours following a power outage on April 14, 2018.

Physical impacts were reported by eight employees of a neighbouring business, including watering eyes, throat irritation, headache, difficulty breathing, nasal irritation, and the need to use face masks while working outdoors. None of the affected employees sought medical attention. Cyclo-Octadiene is known to cause the physical symptoms indicated by the neighbouring company employees.

The ministry's Environmental Investigations and Enforcement Branch investigated and laid charges which resulted in the conviction.

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