by SUSAN MANN
An eastern Ontario hog raising company and its director have been fined $10,000 for failing to comply with an Ontario Environment Ministry order concerning the decommissioning of manure containment structures.
There is also a 25 per cent victim surcharge in addition to the fines levied Oct. 12 in provincial court in Napanee against Harvest Hill Farms Ltd. and its director, Edward Embury. Kate Jordan, environment ministry spokesperson, says Embury and the Newburg-area company were each convicted of one offense under the Environmental Protection Act and fined $5,000 each. The charge was failing to comply with a requirement of a ministry order.
Embury couldn’t be reached for comment.
Jordan says an environment ministry inspection of the farm found “they had constructed essentially permanent liquid manure or nutrient holding structures.” She didn’t have the date of that initial inspection. The ministry issued an order requiring Embury and the company to submit a consultant’s report confirming the storage structures had been decommissioned.
“They failed to comply with that requirement,” which was when it was referred in January 2010 to the ministry’s enforcement branch for further investigation. Charges were laid in July 2010.
Jordan says the ministry order was issued “based on concerns for managing liquid manure at the site. We wanted to ensure that liquid manure was being managed properly to ensure there wasn’t any possibility for groundwater contamination. We had concerns with discharges or leakages from the structures.”
In addition to the ministry’s concerns with possible groundwater contamination, the structures weren’t built in accordance with the Nutrient Management Act, she says.
In November 2011, Embury and Harvest Hill were both acquitted in Napanee provincial court of failing to comply with a ministry order requirement. The environment ministry appealed and in April 2012 the court set aside that acquittal and ordered a new trial. “This conviction is the result of the new trial,” she says.
Sam Bradshaw, Ontario Pork environmental specialist, says he has never heard of the ministry issuing an order to decommission a manure storage structure. He adds that he doesn’t know the details of the matter but plans to meet with the farmer. He says he’s only talked to Embury briefly so far.
As for what this means for farmers, Bradshaw says “I don’t know that it means anything.” The ministry investigates matters and if it sees fit it issues orders to people or companies to do something then gives people time to comply. “If you do (comply with the orders) that’s fine and if you don’t they follow up. That’s the way it works.” BF