Original language


Date of text
Type of court
National - higher court
Court name
Supreme Court
Seat of court
Reference number
2008 NSSC 160
Liability, Remedies, Property, Causation, Permits, Civil, Prevention, Evidence, Jurisdiction, Forests
Free tags
Environment gen.
Waste & hazardous substances
A Nova Scotia resident and his friend were clearing trees to widen the property’s driveway when the friend found 18 to 20 canisters. Although their labels were faded, the resident was able to read that they contained a pesticide. He told the friend to dump the contents into a dumpster. The smell from the dumpster became overpowering. So he told the friend to dilute the pesticide with water. After the friend threw a bucket of water into the dumpster, there was an explosion and a chemical fire. The dumpster started spewing a toxic fog. Fire, police and emergency personnel from the Department of Environment responded. They evacuated the street and surrounding neighbourhood and contained the situation. The Department’s total cost: $12,121.28. It asked the resident to pay up but he refused. So the Department sued. The court rejected the resident’s argument that he wasn’t “the person responsible for the need to take emergency measures” as the law required. To prove that he was, in fact, responsible, the Department had to show that the resident’s conduct “caused or contributed” to the need for emergency actions. The resident owned the land on which the emergency occurred and on which the canisters of pesticide were found. He exercised control over those canisters. And most importantly, he told his friend to throw water on the pesticide, which caused the explosion, chemical fire and toxic fog. Thus, the court concluded that the resident had a “far more direct role than anyone” in causing the need for emergency measures.