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Parmalat Canada fined $510,000 for Environmental Protection Act violations

Christian Fernsby |
Parmalat Canada Inc. was convicted of three violations under the Environmental Protection Act and was fined $510,000 with additional sentencing that requires the company to make a payment of $110,000 to Queen’s University through a short-term probation order.

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The probation order was issued to enable the university to purchase equipment to support research activities at the Beaty Water Research Centre. Therefore, the total penalty issued to Parmalat Canada Inc. is $620,000, and with a victim fine surcharge of $127,500. The defendant has 30 days to pay.

Parmalat Canada Inc. (now known as Lactalis Canada Inc.) operates a dairy product manufacturing plant in Winchester.

The company operates an on-site sewage treatment plant to process industrial wastewater generated during dairy production, under ministry approval. The wastewater is treated to reduce contaminants so that it is can be discharged to a nearby ditch under appropriate conditions.

During 2017, numerous odour complaints were received by the ministry. The strong odour caused area residents to stay indoors with their windows closed, and to be woken from their sleep, and in some cases, ultimately seeking sleep accommodation elsewhere.

In 2017, the company began operating a new milk micro-filtration system which resulted in a dramatic increase of wastewater flow and this flow increase exceeded the operating limits set out in the ministry approval.

The increased flows and high organic loading to the sewage treatment plant resulted in a decrease in effluent quality and a decrease in dissolved oxygen levels, which created septic conditions and significant odour.

The ministry continued to receive odour complaints regarding the facility in 2018 and 2019. Area residents reported multiple impacts, including the inability to enjoy their property, health impacts, and financial expenses (e.g., purchasing air conditioning units).

Although the company made some attempts to minimize the odour discharges, the efforts were insufficient.

Between 2017 and 2020, the company spent $17.39 million to upgrade its wastewater treatment equipment at the facility to address the causes of the odours.

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