When samples collected from Red Hill Creek showed that acutely toxic leachate, contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), chlorinated pesticides and ammonia, was being discharged from Hamilton’s Rennie Street public works in the waterway, no action was taken by the City of Hamilton authorities or the Environment Ministry. So, on behalf of Hamilton resident Lynda Lukasik, we brought a private prosecution under the federal Fisheries Act, with the Environmental Bureau of Investigation providing investigative assistance.
The Ontario Ministry of the Environment then brought separate charges over the matter for violation of the provincial Water Resources Act. The City of Hamilton pleaded guilty to both charges and was fined a record $450,000.
Why was Ecojustice Involved?
When governments fail to enforce environmental laws, it’s up to ordinary Canadians and groups like Ecojustice to hold polluters to account. This case was also an important opportunity to ensure that the “polluter pays principle” is enforced in Canada.
What does this victory mean?
This was the largest fine ever levied against a Canadian municipality for an environmental offence. Part of the fine was awarded to our client, Lynda Lukasik, who used the money to cover prosecution expenses and to fund environmental investigative and advocacy work in the Hamilton area. That work continues to this day.