Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Engineer fined $12,000 in Belleville court for lying to Ministry about disposal of contaminated material in Stirling-Rawdon

The Quinte Consolidated Courthouse, which houses the Ontario Court of Justice, in Belleville. Photo via the Ministry of the Attorney General on Flickr.

A local engineer was recently fined $12,000 for “intentionally lying to the ministry” after hauling material from “a potentially contaminated cleanup site” to a rural area on Bronson Rapids Road in Stirling-Rawdon in November 2020.

A June 14 media release explains that Christopher Follett was convicted of one violation (count) under the Environmental Protection Act on April 23, 2024 at the Belleville court. In addition to the $12,000 fine, he must also pay a victim fine surcharge of $3,000. Penalties must be paid within one year.

In November 2020, the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks received reports of trucks hauling the material in question to the Bronson Rapids Road site.

“As a result, ministry staff attended the site to conduct an inspection and observed approximately 30 piles of grey soil that included chunks of clay, mixed wood, metal, plastics, carpet, wire, asphalt, rocks and brick,” the media release states. “An odour of fuel was also noted in at least two of the soil locations.”

Ministry staff suspected the material was diggings from a potentially contaminated cleanup site. Further, a significant amount of construction and demolition waste was observed to have been dumped in a cleared area at the site and was partially covered with soil.

In December 2020, the ministry issued an order to the owner of the property requiring him to remove the waste from the site and provide documents confirming that the waste had been disposed of by a licensed waste hauler. In response, the property owner provided the ministry with documents confirming that the waste had been removed by a licensed waste hauler however these documents were later determined to be forged.

“During the course of investigation, the property owner claimed that he had received the forged documents from a professional engineer named Christopher Follett,” the media release states.

Ministry staff contacted Follett twice in 2021, and the release says that on each occasion, Follett denied providing the forged documents to the property owner. This led Investigators to obtain a court order requiring Google to supply the ministry with Follett’s email records.

“These records proved that Follett, using a fake name, had indeed provided the forged documents to the property owner.”

In his guilty plea, this past April, Follett admitted that he intentionally lied to the ministry on two occasions in 2021.

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