Public Disclosure of Toxic Spills and Leaks

The City needs to set a higher standard when it comes to publicly disclosing spills and leaks. Too many of these incidents have occurred in the last couple of months. In one instance, media coverage was required to notify downstream users. We also need stiffer penalties for polluters.

WHERE AS Goal 4 under Section D2 of the “Environment Section” of the Official Community Plan aspires to improve the City’s stewardship of the environment;

WHEREAS a hydrocarbon leak was detected in May 2020 by City of Regina and EPCOR staff and not made public because it was deemed “low risk”;

WHEREAS the provincial regulatory bodies made no effort to publicly announce the incident until the matter was covered by the media;

WHEREAS hundreds of thousands of litres of fuel have been reported as “spilled” in Regina since 2016, according to the Government of Saskatchewan’s public spills registry, leading to an underdetermined contamination of soil, ground water, and potential seepage into the sewer system, aquifers, and Wascana Creek; and

WHEREAS spills and leaks can cause damage to the City’s sewer treatment facility and potentially result in effluent being discharged into Wascana Creek;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that Administration:

  1. Review existing fines and costs associated with polluting spills and leaks affecting land and waterways within Regina to ensure that those costs and fines are sufficient to repair all resulting damage, and to deter future incidents, with a report being brought to Council in Q2 of 2021;
  2. Commit to making public all spills and leaks (along with the source, costs, consequences, and remediated actions) that could compromise our treatment facility, infrastructure, or effluent quality, regardless of the level of risk to the surrounding water system;
  3. Develop regulations that would require the City to give public notification within 24 hours of all spills and leaks affecting land and waterways within Regina that might pose any risk to the public or to the environment;
  4. Commit to making public the quality of effluent released by the Waste Water Treatment Facility into the water system;
  5. Develop regulations that would require the City to make public all waste and water agreements that it enters into, along with the implications of those agreements for City infrastructure, the public, and water safety;
  6. Immediately request the provincial and federal ministries and regulators to do the following:
    1. Report all spills publicly and promptly in a searchable database that is barrier free for the public to access;
  7. Make transparent its process for assessing and imposing fines on industry in the case of leaks; and
  8. Make public the number of fines, and their amount, along with the polluter receiving the fine.