|A roundup of important new legislation, regulations, government announcements and court cases that we covered in the Environmental Compliance Insider in 2012.
LAW OF THE YEAR
In Nov. 2011, the province amended the Environment Act to:
OTHER NOTABLE REGULATORY CHANGES
In March, the province introduced new regulations for cleaning up contaminated sites. The regulations, which will take effect in July 2013, address recommendations made by the auditor general in 2010 and meet a target in the Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act. They:
In Sept., the federal and provincial governments signed an agreement so that the new federal coal-fired electricity regulations won’t result in the premature closure of the province’s eight coal-fired plants. The draft Canada-Nova Scotia Equivalency Agreement for Coal-Fired Electricity will ensure that the province can reduce GHG emissions using its own regulatory approach instead of the federal regulations.
CASE OF THE YEAR
NS Court Allows Class Action to Go Forward in Steel Works Lawsuit
Property owners and residents of Sydney, NS sued the governments of Canada and Nova Scotia as operators of a steel works facility that included a steel mill, coke ovens and tar ponds. They claimed that the facilities emitted pollutants, including lead, arsenic and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), that contaminated their properties and posed risks to their health. They asked the court to certify their case as a class action lawsuit. The Nova Scotia Supreme Court certified the lawsuit as a class action with two related classes: one for current property owners in neighbourhoods within two miles of the steel works and the other for individuals who lived in the affected neighbourhoods for at least seven years [MacQueen v. Sydney Steel Corp.,  NSSC 484 (CanLII), Jan. 19, 2012].
OTHER NOTABLE CASES
Fishermen Exercised Due Diligence as to Offloading Requirement
Two fishermen were charged with violating the Fisheries Act by offloading a catch of herring without the supervision of a dockside observer. The court dismissed the charges. The start of the commercial herring fishing season was public record. So it was reasonable for the fishermen to assume that dockside monitors would be available when that season started. They spent several hours trying to arrange for a dockside monitor so they could unload their catches. But the owner of the dockside monitor service was drunk and uncooperative. In addition, there was a buyer waiting to buy the fish, which were at risk of spoiling if they weren’t offloaded. Thus, the court concluded that there was “ample evidence of due diligence” on the part of both fishermen to avoid violating the offloading requirement [R. v. Thompson,  NSPC 64 (CanLII), Sept. 23, 2011].
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