Polluter Pays – Imperial Oil Ltd.
The British Columbia Supreme Court has recently ruled against Imperial Oil Ltd. in a lawsuit that has upheld and in fact expanded the “polluter pays” principles of the B.C. Environmental Management Act (Lexology).
The Plaintiff purchased a property from a third party that had been owned by Imperial Oil Ltd. until 1993 and upon which Imperial had operated a gas station until 1991. When the Plaintiff investigated the property before purchasing it, the property was found to be contaminated by Imperial Oil Ltd.’s earlier operations. The Plaintiff purchased the property with the full knowledge of the contamination but received no discount due to the contamination. The Plaintiff then remediated the property and sued Imperial Oil for the remediation costs, since it was Imperial that had polluted the property. Imperial Oil took the position that the Plaintiff assumed the full risks, knowing that the contamination existed. The court ruled that, despite this knowledge, the Plaintiff was entitled to recover its remediation costs for the contamination Imperial Oil was responsible for.
This is an excellent case that bolsters the “polluter pays” principle which, from anyone’s perspective, is simply a matter of common sense.
(Imperial Oil Ltd. is the corporation storing 225 petroleum tank rail cars in a rail yard right next to 2 wildlife conservation areas and 2 homes in southwest Strathcona County near Edmonton.) See this Railroaded link for more on Imperial Oil’s environmental record.