Judge fines Louise gas station owner, manager and company

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A provincial court judge has issued $5,000 fines to two people and one company that were found guilty of improperly cleaning up a gasoline spill in Lake Louise.

Eric Correll, owner of the Lake Louise Petro Canada gas station, Cherry Gupta, the station’s assistant manager, and Correll’s company were charged last year under the National Parks Act and found guilty of failing to dispose of hazardous material in the appropriate manner.

The charges stemmed from an incident in Lake Louise that occurred on Sept. 5, 2016, when a customer at the gas station used a trigger lock on a gas pump and it overflowed – spilling approximately 10 litres onto the ground.

Gupta cleaned up the spill with an employee, as per Petro Canada guidelines, using an absorbing agent and bagging the soaked up material. However, they placed it in a regular garbage bin, not a specialized container for hazardous materials.

As a result, Parks Canada charged all three with violating the act and, after a trial Judge Les Grieve found them guilty of the offence.

Defence counsel Tyson Dahlem didn’t dispute the facts of the case, however, made a legal argument with respect to liability. He said Correll and his company were not liable for the mistake Gupta made when she put the material in the wrong bin, as they exercised due diligence by offering spill management training.

During the trial, a witness testified they saw Gupta and the employee improperly disposing of the material in the garbage bin, and warned them. There was also signage on the municipal solid waste bearproof bin in Lake Louise at the gas station warning against placing hazardous materials inside.

Federal Crown counsel Anita Szabo argued the level of due diligence used in the situation was not enough.

Szabo argued that while Petro Canada offers online training to all employees for spills, as well as a safety manual and posters illustrating proper disposal protocols, they are site-specific, so owners are responsible to ensure employees are shown where their hazardous waste disposal bin is located, which Gupta testified Correll failed to do.

The Crown also pointed to the fact Gupta ignored the warning of a bystander and demonstrated “complete wilful blindness” with regard to where she putting the gasoline soaked absorbent material.

The bystander then reported the incident to Parks Canada, leading to the charges and trial.

– With files from Autumn Fox

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