Bakelite firm fined for lake pollution

A plastics company and its 67-year-old boss have been fined hundreds of thousands of dollars for polluting an industrial site and adjacent lake with PCBs.

A court in Belleville, in Ontario, Canada, sentenced James Sinclair, the president and director of Thermosets Limited and Demolition and Recycling Inc, for violating the Ontario Water Resources Act.

He and his businesses, which are based in Belleville, were fined a total of CA$659,000, and Mr Sinclair was handed a four-month jail sentence.

The sentencing follows investigations by the Ministry of the Environment into excavations and discharges from the Thermoset site, which until 1992 housed a Bakelite manufacturing plant that produced resins and formaldehyde.

In a statement following the sentencing, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment said its investigation found that sediments contaminated with PCBs had been discharged into the Bay of Quinte, a tourism and recreation hotspot in the province.

It also found that Mr Sinclair had failed to comply with orders to remediate the site and clean up the discharged sediment.

Mr Sinclair, who was convicted of the environmental crimes in February, was fined a total of $71,000. Thermosets Limited was fined $291,000 and Demolition and Recycling Inc was fined $296,500.

According to the Belleville Intelligencer, former employees at the plant said that toxic chemicals were routinely released into the surrounding environment.

Bruce Polmanter, 74, who worked at the plant for 30 years, told the newspaper that thousands of gallons of toxins seeped into the grounds of the Bakelite property over the years the plant was in operation.

He claimed that chemicals which did not drain into the ground were scooped up and stored in holding pools.

“This fellow [Jim Sinclair] bulldozed these phenol-settling ponds and drained them right out into the bay,” he told the paper.

Kate Martin

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