Northland Power has been fined $275,000 for releasing sediment into two creeks near Cochrane over a nine-month period in 2015.
Toronto-based Northland Power is a renewable energy company with four solar farms located north of Cochrane.
According to a news release from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, in 2015, during the construction of these solar farms – between April and December – some rainfall events overwhelmed the erosion and sediment control systems. Breaches in these control systems allowed sediment-laden water to flow into two creeks.
Justice Michel R. Labelle of the Ontario Court of Justice in Cochrane found Northland Power Inc. guilty of two offences under the Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act (LRIA). He imposed a fine of $200,000 for impacts to Munroe Creek in Glackmeyer Township and $75,000 for impacts to Smith Creek in Calder Township.
The ministry noted that allowing sediment to enter waterways is illegal and can damage bodies of water.
Labelle noted that the company had spent close to $4 million to control the silt discharges and clearly took their environmental obligations seriously. He found that specific deterrence was not necessary for Northland in light of its conduct, but that these fines were necessary to demonstrate to others that any harm to the environment is unacceptable.
A separate company, which was the contractor on the project, previously pled guilty to an offence under the LRIA for causing impacts to Munroe Creek. That company was fined $175,000.