Canada
London, Ontario charged after aluminum sulphate leaked into river

The Thames River in Lodnon, Ontario.

Credits: DEREK RUTTAN/The London Free Press/QMI AGENCY

JENNIFER O'BRIEN | QMI AGENCY

LONDON, ON — The city and one of its employees face environmental charges after aluminum sulphate spilled from a wastewater treatment plant into the Thames River last spring.

The spill occurred on April 26 at the Greenway Pollution Control Centre and went unreported for a day, the provincial environment ministry says. About 18 cubic metres of aluminum sulphate leaked from a storage tank.

"The notification (of a spill) is important because we need to determine if other agencies need to be involved or downstream users need to be notified," ministry spokeswoman Kate Jordan said.

Though it's not toxic when used to purify water, dumping a large volume of aluminum sulphate into water could be harmful to fish and other natural life.

An inspector went to the area and determined the spill wasn't great enough to harm the ecosystem or habitat in the river, she said.

The faulty tank was fixed immediately and the city is "responding to the charges," city engineer John Braam said.

He said the employee charged — Brian High, the plant's chief wastewater operator — is still working and any disciplinary action would depend on the outcome "on the legal side of things. High's charged under the Environmental Protection Act with failing to notify the environment ministry of a spill. The city faces the same charge and is also charged with failing to comply with ministry approval conditions — essentially failure to safely store the chemcial.

The case goes to court Jan. 7.

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