Abbotsford hazardous waste handler may avoid trial with guilty plea

Ed Ilnicki, whose company Canadian Petroleum Products (CPC) created an environmental state of emergency in Abbotsford in 2005, is expected to plead guilty to three of 43 hazardous waste charges relating to a second company, Valley Demolition and Design and Repair.

Ed Ilnicki, whose company Canadian Petroleum Products (CPC) created an environmental state of emergency in Abbotsford in 2005, is expected to plead guilty to three of 43 hazardous waste charges relating to a second company, Valley Demolition and Design and Repair.

The infractions occurred between 2005 and 2007 on Wheel and Foy Avenues in Abbotsford, as well as Gloucester Way in Langley.

The matter was set for a seven-day trial in Abbotsford Provincial Court beginning yesterday (Monday), but Crown Counsel anticipates Ilnicki will plead guilty to three counts. He’ll be back in court on Friday.

Ilnicki was charged with 11 counts for environmental offences in 2003, and in 2005 pleaded guilty to two of those, resulting in a $10,000 fine. The other nine charges were stayed.

The provincial government paid $870,000 in 2005 to clean up the environmental mess left behind by CPC on Industrial Avenue. Investigators found 1,690 barrels, many unmarked, containing toxic and dangerous substances.

Then-environment minister Barry Penner invoked the state of emergency in order to access public funds to clean up the site. That ended a legal battle his ministry was having with the property owner, Sev Samulski, over who was financially responsible. It was the landlord who brought the offences to light.

During the cleanup, businesses on Industrial Avenue within 200 metres of CPC were at one point told to evacuate their buildings because of the threat of explosion.

There were almost 10,000 litres of methyl-ethyl-ketone (MEK), a substance used in paint that is flammable with highly explosive fumes. They were in mislabelled waste containers.

The carcinogen Chromium 6, and hydroflouric acid, which is also explosive, were among other hazardous materials at the site.

Up to 10 million litres of toxic waste could not be unaccounted for.

The City of Abbotsford pulled CPC’s business licence in June 2004.

On Wheel Avenue, where Ilnicki set up a new base of operations, ministry of environment investigators found waste oil, waste printing inks and xylene, which is highly flammable.

In 2008, Ilnicki originally faced 52 environmental charges related to that operation.

It is not yet known which three counts the anticipated guilty plea will involve.

The maximum penalty for contravening hazardous waste regulations is a fine of $1 million and six months in jail.