On August 4, 2004, blasting of the Niagara Escarpment for the construction of the Red Hill Valley Expressway sent debris flying up to 200 metres into a residential neighbourhood adjacent to the construction area. Softball sized flyrock caused $10,000 in damages, and blasting was temporarily suspended.
Local environmental groups are now calling on the Ministry of Environment to initiate an investigation of the incident.
On August 19, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper and Environment Hamilton sent a request to the Investigation and Enforcement Branch of the Ministry of the Environment to investigate this incident pursuant to s. 13 (1) of the Environmental Protection Act (EPA).
The EPA states, "no person shall discharge a contaminant or cause or permit the discharge of a contaminant into the natural environment that causes or is likely to cause an adverse effect." Legally, adverse effects include the "impairment of the safety of any person".
Mark Mattson, Waterkeeper and environmental lawyer, says flying rocks that jeopardize public safety are grounds for an investigation.
"It is the same as carelessly rear-ending another car on the highway. Even if there are no injuries, the police will investigate the accident and charge the careless driver," says Mattson.
Lynda Lukasik, executive director of Environment Hamilton, underscores the importance of investigating the incident. She notes that, "a commitment to enforcing environmental laws is essential to deter and prevent future environmental accidents."
In their letter to Ministry of Environment regional director Kal Haniff, Mattson and Lukasik note that the City of hamilton's past environmental conduct in the Red Hill Valley places an onus on the Ministry of Environment to investigate environmental complaints quickly and diligently.
The request for investigation was sent as the groups are awaiting the Ministry of Environment?s decision on whether or not it will reassess its approvals for the Red Hill Creek Expressway.
Lynda Lukasik, Environment Hamilton, 905.549.0900
Mark Mattson, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, 416.861.1237