An Abbotsford man charged with 52 Environmental Protection Act infractions, including destroying or disposing of hazardous waste, was fined $20,000 on Thursday after pleading guilty to three charges.
Ed Ilnicki, 63, admitted in Abbotsford provincial court to three counts of failing to retain a qualified expert – as ordered by the Ministry of Environment (MOE) – to document potentially hazardous materials stored at two properties in Abbotsford in 2006.
The remaining 49 charges, including 35 related to hazardous waste disposal, were stayed.
Defence lawyer Paul Dutt argued that Ilnicki had wanted to comply with the orders requiring him to hire a third party consultant, but could not afford the $35,000 to $50,000 in fees. The MOE would not make any allowances for him, Dutt said.
Ilnicki addressed Judge Donald Gardner just before sentencing.
“I was caught between a rock and a hard place and I did the best I could,” he said.
However, Crown counsel Jim MacAulay said Ilnicki exhibited an “air of defiance” and refused to cooperate with the ministry.
Ilnicki had been operating Valley Demolition Design and Repair out of a rented warehouse at #105 – 31234 Wheel Ave. The business was described as one to “demolish, repair, design and rebuild buildings, machinery and equipment.”
An inspection by MOE staff in December 2005 found almost 300 45-gallon drums of materials, many of which were flammable, corrosive or unknown.
Ilnicki was asked to provide detailed information on what was contained in the drums, but he refused, saying the materials were not hazardous, were necessary for his business and were “no different in scope than any other general contractor warehouse.”
The ministry issued an “information order,” requiring Ilnicki to hire a third-party consultant to conduct an inventory of the materials and provide that information to the ministry.
He lost an appeal on the matter through the Environmental Appeal Board (EAB).
In June 2006, Ilnicki had moved his business to another property – at 1717 Foy St. An inspection of that property turned up materials that included 112 drums of waste believed to be hazardous and 180 pails of potassium hydroxide – used primarily to develop film.
MacAulay said a “photo ionization detector” – which can detect toxic or flammable materials – was placed over the drums and turned up levels that were three to seven times above what was allowed without a permit.
The ministry issued a pollution prevention order, further requiring Ilnicki to provide details about the materials he was storing. He also lost an appeal on that matter.
He later moved to 2790 Gloucester Way in Langley, and provided a list of materials to the MOE, but the ministry said it did not meet the requirement that he hire a consultant to document the inventory.
Ilnicki has since sold his business and now works as a heavy-duty mechanic. The $20,000 ordered in penalties is broken down into a $3,000 fine and $17,000 to the B.C. Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation.
Gardner said he did not believe that the only reason Ilnicki failed to comply with the MOE orders was due to lack of funds.
“I agree with the Crown that the accused had an opportunity to comply with the conditions of the act.”
Ilnicki was given one year to pay the fees.
This is not the first time he has been before the courts on hazardous waste offences. In 2005, he pleaded guilty to two offences related to a property on Industrial Avenue, where he ran Canada Petroleum Corporation. The company was fined $10,000, which he has not yet paid.
The site was declared an environmental emergency in 2005 due to materials Ilnicki left behind when he moved the previous year, and cost MOE almost $900,000 to clean up.