V Trans Ltd. & Husanpreet Singh were recently convicted in Ontario court as a result of being found guilty of violations under the Ontario Environmental Protection Act (EPA). V Trans Ltd. was convicted of three violations under the Environmental Protection Act (EPA), fined $125,000 plus a victim fine surcharge (VFS) of $31,250 and given 15 days to pay. Husanpreet Singh was convicted of three violations under the EPA, fined $15,000 plus a VFS of $3,750, and given 15 days to pay.

Background

V Trans Ltd. is a trucking company registered in the Province of Alberta. Mr. Husanpreet Singh was the sole company director in 2021.

In April 2021, a vehicle owned by V Trans Ltd. was involved in a motor vehicle accident on Highway 11 near Lake Helen, approximately 100 km northeast of Thunder Bay, Ontario. That accident resulted in a diesel spill that contaminated the soil and vegetation in the ditch and travelled through a culvert into nearby Lake Helen.

Lake Helen is a source of drinking water for the Lake Helen First Nation community and located within their traditional territory where they exercise their Aboriginal and treaty rights. It is also a cold water fishery that supports species that are particularly sensitive to hydrocarbon contamination.

The Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) discovered the spill in May 2021 and contacted V Trans Ltd. advising them of their duty to report and clean up the spill. The defendants did not adequately contain the spill and did not clean up the contamination.

In July 2021, a ministry Order was issued to V Trans Ltd. and Mr. Singh requiring that spill clean-up and site remediation be completed. Additionally, a report describing this work was to be prepared by a qualified professional and submitted to the ministry. The defendants failed to comply with the Order by the deadline. Neither the company nor Mr. Singh took any action to complete spill clean-up or site remediation and have failed to respond to the ministry’s requests for updates.

In November 2022, the ministry retained a third party to remediate the spill and paid $84,004.58 using funds from the ministry’s Environmental Clean-Up Fund. The ministry’s Environmental Investigations and Enforcement Branch investigated and laid charges which resulted in the convictions.

Restitution Payments

As part of sentencing, an Order was issued to the defendants under Section 190.1 of the EPA requiring that $84,004.58 be paid to the Minister of Finance within 30 days of conviction. Under section 190.1 of the EPA, the court that convicts a person of an offence under this Act, in addition to any other penalty imposed by the court, may make an order for restitution against the person convicted of the offence, requiring the person to pay another person for reasonable expenses actually incurred by the other person on account of damage to property in which the other person has an interest that results from or is in any way connected to the commission of the offence, in such amount and on such terms and conditions as the court considers just.