Contaminated Sites

Laws and cases dealing with contamination of soil and/or groundwater, with petroleum, chlorinated solvents, metals or other contaminants

Herbicide Spray Drift a “Normal” Farm Practice?

Organic farmers in Nova Scotia filed a lawsuit against a neighbouring farm for damages allegedly caused by a herbicide which drifted onto their property. In particular, the plaintiffs claimed that the herbicide caused damage to their crops, the miscarriage of four horses, and personal injury. The defendant farmer claimed immunity under section 10(1) of Nova…

Millions for offsite gasoline contamination

The Ontario Superior Court has awarded millions to a neighbouring property owner for historic offsite gasoline contamination. The decision in Canadian Tire Real Estate Ltd. v. Huron Concrete Supply Ltd. illustrates, and will perpetuate, the continuing confusion over liability for off site groundwater plumes. Justice Leitch never explains how her decision can be reconciled with the landmark Smith v.…

Environmental consultant’s negligence claim to proceed

Environmental consultant’s negligence claims for failing to clean up contaminated sites continue to multiply. The Ontario Superior Court recently allowed a professional negligence lawsuit to go ahead against an Ontario environmental consultant, XCG, despite a long delay, which,  according to XCG, was causing it unfair prejudice.

Current environmental liability issues for municipalities

On June 17, Dianne and Graham Rempe of the City Toronto’s Legal Services spoke on the issue of current environmental liabilities for municipalities. Graham gracious agreed to allow us to post the paper we prepared here. As the introduction explains: Few topics evoke more concern about “vast” liability than environmental mishaps. Municipalities and their legal advisors are…

Anti-fracking bylaws: US Lawyer wins green Nobel prize

Helen Slottje, a lawyer in Ithaca, New York, was recently awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize for her work “helping towns across New York defend themselves from oil and gas companies by passing local bans on fracking” (the US equivalent of anti-fracking bylaws).  Her legal research concluded that individual townships could use zoning laws, through “home rule”, to…

Supreme Court of Canada gives Chevron permission to appeal Ecuador pollution decision

The Supreme Court of Canada has granted Chevron’s application for leave to appeal the Ontario Court of Appeal decision allowing Ecuadorian plaintiffs to sue here to try to collect their $18 billion Ecuador pollution judgment. According to a US court, that award was based on fraud.

The risks of gambling with contaminated sites

A new case from the Ontario Superior Court provides another example of the risks associated with purchasing contaminated sites. In a failed real estate transaction, the potential purchasers were left with substantial costs but did not own the properties they had intended to buy.

Supreme Court considers Chevron leave to appeal; fraudulent Ecuador judgment re pollution

Donziger and his team “wrote the [Ecuadorian] court’s Judgment themselves and promised $500,000 to the Ecuadorian judge to rule in their favor and sign their judgment.”

Ecuador oil pollution claim can try again to collect from Chevron in Canada

Indigenous Ecuadorian villagers can try again to enforce a controversial $18 billion environmental damage award against Texaco (now merged with Chevron Corp., one of the world’s largest corporations) in Canada. This is part of a worldwide legal battle between the villagers, seeking to collect the money and have the pollution cleaned up, and Chevron, which argues that…

De-polluting end of life vehicles, at last?

After years of effort by Ontario’s mainstream auto recyclers, in cooperation with automobile manufacturers, the Ministry of the Environment is getting close to a permit-by-rule system for recycling end of life vehicles. Given the elaborate market that already exists for vehicle recycling, this is far better than the MOE’s standard “extended producer responsibility” model for…

Dianne’s Halifax presentation on contaminated site litigation

Here is Dianne’s presentation to the Canadian Bar Association Mid-winter meeting in Halifax, on Contaminated Site Litigation after Inco. We include a really useful list of Caveat emptor case summaries, with thanks to researcher Kristen Courtney.

Excess Soil Management Guidance finalized

The Ministry of the Environment has announced release of the final, Management of Excess Soil – A Guide for Best Management Practices is now available on the Environmental Bill of Rights Registry and the ministry’s website. You can access the guide here.

Ecojustice asks Commissioner to improve contaminated sites law

The farther we move away from the “polluter pay” principle, the greater the disarray in Ontario’s contaminated sites law and policy, and the greater its economic and environmental harm. The Ontario Bar Association is working on a submission to the Law Commission of Ontario, asking them to look into the issue and make recommendations for…