I applaud the addition of soil contamination to the list of pollution violations. Air, water, and soil are the essential building blocks of life, and are required for our own well being, and our ecosystem.
While I think it is great to safeguard our soil, this act appears to primarily outline limp penalties and the ability to appeal, reduce, or mitigate penalties.
It is shortsighted to peg the penalties at a maximum of $200,000, or the financial benefit of contamination. The cost should be tied to actually cleaning up the issue. How will the penalty be doled out? Per square foot? Extent of damage? Level of hazard to life? Everyone should be fully accountable for the damage they have caused, and if it is irreparable, there should be serious consequences. Someone will have to either remediate the land, or close it off to any future use, and Ontario citizens should not be paying the price, when corporations irresponsibly use our resources for their own profits. What happens when contamination spreads to water tables? What if it damages our ecosystem to the point of collapse in areas? What if the land becomes completely unusable? Even if the land is remediated, where is the soil then going? Is it just contaminating another area? Who will pay for that additional environmental damage? A maximum of $200,000 is a slap on the wrist.
Further, "an administrative penalty is a monetary penalty for non-compliance that provides an incentive to the recipient to return to compliance." So basically there is no "punishment" it is just an incentive to return to compliance. So pay the maximum $200,000 and continue doing as you like?
Yes, enact soil protections, but this plan is weak and places almost no value on the true importance of soil. Its basically doublespeak saying "we are doing great things for the environment" while making the punishment so low that it effectively allows corporations to buy the right to pollute.
Submitted May 6, 2019 1:27 PM