Sarah Wiebe and Mckay Swanson in The Observer
On Thursday morning we arrived at Coffee Culture, a local gathering place, to greet a group of startled community advisors for a meeting on research and everyday life in Chemical Valley. Minutes prior to our 10 a.m. meeting, the sounds of the Chemical Valley sirens accompanied our companions as they arrived to the coffee shop. Lasting no longer than a minute, the sirens did little more than to raise alarm, as limited information was released on the news about the severity of this “Code 8″ (non)emergency, with no known offsite impact from the apparent toxic flash vapour release at Imperial Oil.
We looked out the window of the coffee shop to see black plume spewing into the sky, grazing above a large, orange flare. Fitting, we thought, to be discussing how living in a state of alarm affects people residing in close proximity to Canada’s Chemical Valley, an industrial zone known for the highest concentration of chemical plants in Canada. Each of us was affected by the context in which we were meeting. The off site impacts were certainly felt during our meeting, as we discussed the uncertainty surrounding these normalized, routinized experiences, and the automated conditioned response by the seemingly uncoordinated “Chemical Valley Emergency Coordinated Organization”. What is a Code 8 again? We looked at each other perplexed.
The Beehive Design Collective will be coming to Sarnia to share their stories and art work. The local situation in Sarnia-Lambton will be connected with the coal industry, and with community responses from people who are trying to build a better future.
WHEN – Friday, March 4th at 6:00PM
WHERE – The Urban Nature Centre in downtown Sarnia (184 Christina Street N.)
The presentation and discussion will revolve around the True Cost of Coal graphics, which will be linked up with local issues -
Everyone is invited to come out to this free event.
The 16 foot by 8 foot coal banner comes from discussions, story-tellings, and song-sharings that have taken place over two years, between the Beehive Collective and folks in Appalachia whose lives and livelihoods have been impacted by the coal industry. This story is about people and nature under attack, but it also is about the better world our communities are building and defending every day, in many ways.
WHERE – City Hall
WHEN – 1pm, Saturday
ESSO has once again failed in its duty to keep the citizens of this community informed about events on their grounds.
Yesterday, a ‘vapour release’ occurred, causing chemical burns to five employees. Nearby industry (Cabot, Lanxess, & Nova) were informed of an event and issued a ‘shelter-in-place for its employees. No information was offered so that CITIZENS could have the same safety opportunity. Vidal Street was NOT closed off to the public. People became ill at the Aamjiwnaang Industrial Park, which was directly in the fallout of the substantial plume.
There WAS off-site impact.
Demand more from ESSO.
We will bring two ESSO specific signs. Please feel free to bring your own message as well.
Call 226-932-2087 for more information.
[On Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=185508491486144]
As seen by Wilson Plain, from George and Front Streets in downtown Sarnia -
Photos taken by Ada Lockridge -
George Poitras on his visit to Aamjiwnaang and Sarnia-Lambton -
Canada’s Chemical Valley is not a likely destination that one has on its “definitely gotta see” places in the world. But if you’re living in a community like Fort Chipewyan in northeastern Alberta and are concerned about tarsands development and its impacts on your land, air, water and human health, then there’s a likelihood that you’ve heard of the Aamjiwnaang people and their struggle for justice. And because of that, if you’re from Fort Chipewyan there is a strong interest in visiting your Ojibway relations who appear to be plagued by the very same issues we face back home with injustice, environmental racism, cancers and systemic government and big industry repeated treatment that is reminiscent of old days colonial, imperial, archaic treatment of Canada’s First Peoples.
My recent visit to the Aamjiwnaang (a name that I could spell without looking at my cheat card after only two days there) First Nation was both pleasant and solemn. I can recall many times back home in Fort Chip, the outsiders I bring home to visit our community, how totally amazed they are about how hospitable our people are despite the fear of the known and unknown in our environment. I found the same in Aamjiwnaang.
Join us in London for a free film about life around Sarnia-Lambton’s “Chemical Valley.” Community members and researchers will also be present to share their experiences, and to answer questions.
Monday, February 14th, at 7pm
In the University Community Centre Council Chambers – UCC 315
The film Beloved Community looks at a Great Lakes oil town facing a toxic legacy head-on. The centre of Canada’s petrochemical industry, the bills for Sarnia’s economic wealth are well past due – with compromised environmental and community health. These industries were built around the Aamjiwnaang native reserve, and the employees in the plants are among the most impacted locals.
Confirmed panelists -
* Wilson Plain – Past Chair, Aamjiwnaang Health & Environment Committee
* Zak Nicholls – S.H.A.M.E. and the Responsible Community Network for South End Sarnia
* Shawn E. Johnston – First Nations Student Association
* Kathy Jo Berry – Responsible Community Network for South End Sarnia
* Sarah Wiebe – PhD Candidate in Political Science, University of Ottawa
This event will be an opportunity to learn about emerging campaigns and research that will have ripple effects in London — downwind from Chemical Valley. (See this article for more information – http://tinyurl.com/62ufbog)
Please bring a mug. Coffee will be available.
The film trailer is available on this web site -
A letter to the editor in The Observer
Sir: Recent articles in The Observer remind us again we have a very long ways to go to reduce the air pollution in Sarnia -Lambton to improve air quality.
When people like Dean Edwardson, spokesperson for a local industry lobby group says “we continue to make improvements to the operations locally”, the implication is that our local air quality is getting better.
If that is the case, then why did the recently-released Ontario 2009 Air Quality Report show Sarnia has the dirtiest air in Ontario while the rest of the province improves?
The fact is our local dirty air has been directly linked to hospital admission rates for respiratory illness in a 2007 study.