Titanium trucking company fined $312K for fatal Highway 401 acid spill

The Titanium trucking company in Bolton, Ont., has been fined more than $312,000 for a 2017 acid spill on Highway 401 that killed a truck driver who was doused in acid, injured the OPP officer who tried to save him, forced civilians and emergency responders to be decontaminated and polluted the environment.

A pileup in near-whiteout conditions happened east of Kingston, Ont., at about 2 p.m. on March 14, 2017. It involved 30 vehicles, closed the highway in both directions and resulted in an evacuation of the area due to the resulting chemical spill.

Kingston General Hospital received 34 patients, including 17 first responders who needed to be decontaminated and held for observation as a precaution.

Titanium Trucking Services Inc.’s tractor-trailer was carrying 81,000 kg of 37-42 per cent fluorosilicic acid — a corrosive liquid classified as a dangerous good, mainly used to preserve wood — from Montreal to Burlington, Ont.

Environment Canada had earlier issued weather advisories about a major winter storm, advising people to consider postponing all non-essential travel.

8,000 litres of acid spilled

The force of the crash sent 15 tanks of the acid through the front wall of the trailer into the cab of the truck and out onto the ditch.

An estimated 8,000 litres of acid spilled, “dousing the driver” and resulting in his death in hospital, according to a news release Wednesday by the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks.

The driver was identified as 45-year-old Ian Melville of Hamilton.

The ministry said the OPP officer who initially tried to get Melville out of the cab “experienced significant health effects,” and the roadside ecosystem was polluted.

Nearly two years later, on Jan. 9, Titanium trucking was convicted of a violation under the Environmental Protection Act and fined $250,000, as well as a victim fine surcharge of $62,500, according to the ministry.

The company has been given two years to pay.

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