Namewaminikan Hydro Inc. (NHI), owner of the 10-MW Namewaminikan Waterpower Project (NWP) near Thunder Bay in Geraldton, Ontario, Canada, pleaded guilty on March 27 in two separate matters resulting in fines of $187,500.
NHI is part of AXOR Group Inc., and the NWP includes two run-of-river facilities: the 5.6-MW Long Rapids and the 4.4-MW Twin Falls stations on Namewaminikan River.
According to a news release from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC), “On March 27, two separate matters against NHI resulted in convictions through guilty pleas at Geraldton Court. NHI was convicted on four counts under the Ontario Water Resources Act (OWRA) and was also convicted on one count under the Environmental Protection Act (EPA). NHI was fined a total of $150,000 plus a Victim Fine Surcharge (VFS) of $37,500 and was given 30 days to pay the fine.
MOECC said the OWRA convictions against NHI relate to failing to comply with a Permit to Take Water (PTTW), for permitting the discharge of sediment into Namewaminikan River on two occasions, and for failing to notify the ministry of a discharge.
The EPA conviction against NHI relates to failing to comply with an Environmental Compliance Approval (ECA) by failing to install and maintain sedimentation control works to minimize silt carried to Namewaminikan River.
According to the release, the first incident occurred on or about Nov. 18, 2015, and the second during the period between March 22 and March 27, 2017, as well as on or about April 3, 2017.
On Nov. 18, 2015, ministry staff conducted a site visit and observed that a pond created at the site was being used as a source of water; however, this was not in accordance with the terms of the PTTW. Additionally, ministry staff observed a discharge of sediment into Namewaminikan River from a dam in the North Channel of the river.
NHI is subject to a PTTW and an ECA both of which were issued by the ministry in July 2015.
The incidents were referred to the ministry’s Investigations and Enforcement Branch, resulting in NHI being charged and convicted on two counts.
On March 22, 2017, there was a dam structure failure at the Long Rapids section of Namewaminikan River, which resulted in a discharge of sediment into the river, which may have impaired the quality of the water. However, the sediment release was not reported until several days later.
On April 3, 2017, officials from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and MOECC staff conducted a site visit in response to the reported dam failure. Officials observed insufficient sediment control measures on site, contrary to the requirements of the ECA.
The incidents were referred to the ministry’s Investigations and Enforcement Branch, resulting in NHI being charged and convicted on three counts.