The Ministry of Environment has charged Consbec Inc. after blasting in the Red Hill Valley sent debris flying through the air. Neighbours reported seeing "softball sized rocks" soaring over residential streets, resulting in significant property damage and sparking fears among residents that, "my kids ... could have been hit in the head." The rocks were launched after the Niagara Escarpment was blasted to make way for the Red Hill Creek Expressway.
A Ministry of Environment spokesperson confirmed Friday that Consbec Inc. has been charged with:
- 2 counts discharging a contaminant into the natural environment that causes an adverse effect (Section 14.(1) of the Environmental Protection Act)
- 2 counts failing to notify the Ministry of Environment following the discharge of a contaminant (Section 15.(1) of the Environmental Protection Act)
Ministry of Environment investigators took up the case in summer 2004 after Lake Ontario Waterkeeper and Environment Hamilton submitted a brief with media reports, legal precedents, and a description of the incidents. Mark Mattson and Dr. Lynda Lukasik wrote:
We believe the City of Hamilton's past environmental conduct places an onus on your regulatory agency to investigate environmental complaints quickly and diligently. As enforcement of our environmental laws is essential to preventing and deterring environmental crimes in the future, a duty of care rests with your office to ensure the facts in this case are investigated and dealt with in a legal and professional manner.
Following the flying rocks incident, City of Hamilton staff reported to Council that, "Staff and its field management consultant (Stantec) also reviewed the revised procedures and are satisfied that the Contractor (Aecon Construction) and its Sub-contractor (Consbec Inc.) are taking the necessary precautions to carry out the blasting in a safe manner."
The Ministry of Environment disagreed, laying four charges against the sub-contractor on December 2, 2005. The first court appearance was slated for January 3, 2006 but has since been postponed.