Monthly Archives: April 2011

Tar Sands in the Great Lakes

Image by Matt Forsythe

Toban Black in The Dominion

Bitumen from Alberta’s tar sands continues to be processed in Sarnia, Ontario, and the surrounding townships. Imperial Oil, Nova Chemicals, Suncor and Shell all have refineries in Sarnia-Lambton’s well- known “Chemical Valley”—where BP and Enbridge operations can also be found. This petro-chemical industry complex surrounds the Aamjiwnaang First Nation reserve, and sits directly across the river from Port Huron, Michigan. Aamjiwnaang residents are researching the resulting health impacts on communities in the area. The dramatic reduction in male births, due to endocrine-disrupting chemicals, is one of the most startling outcomes of local pollution. Other health impacts include cancers, respiratory problems and increased blood pressure.

Although tar sands refining is only one of many local pollution sources, the industry casts a significant shadow over the future of the area. As with natural gas from shale rock, bitumen from the tar sands is increasingly necessary to extend the life of fossil fuel and petro-chemical industries in Sarnia. Conventional oil and gas are becoming less affordable and available, yet are used to make rubber, plastics, and various chemical and fuel products in Chemical Valley.

Like many other midwestern cities, Sarnia’s existing oil and gas pipeline networks, and its other historical ties to petrochemical industries, may continue to draw fossil fuel companies to the region. Although Shell abandoned 2008 plans for a new tar sands refinery in the area amid protests, Suncor recently invested $1 billion for refinery upgrades which included further integration with their other tar sands operations.


Group protests asbestos industry

Tara Jeffrey in The Observer

Members of S.H.A.M.E. (Sarnia’s Hometown Activist Movement Emerging) held a demonstration Saturday at the former Holmes Foundry site in Sarnia.

“Asbestos has had a huge impact on workers and families here,” said organizer Zak Nicholls, joined by several participants who held signs slamming both the Liberal and Conservative governments.

“Both parties support the asbestos industry,” he said, pointing to a lavish Liberal fundraiser hosted recently by a businessman leading the charge to reopen one of Canada’s last-remaining asbestos mines.

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At the rally against asbestos exports

Photos by Shawn E. Johnston

April 23rd – Rally to STOP Asbestos Exports!

WHEN – Saturday, April 23rd, 3pm

WHERE – Holmes Foundry (NW corner of Christina & Exmouth)

This will be a S.H.A.M.E. event. Both the Liberal and Conservative Parties support the Asbestos industry.

The Conservative’s finance the Chrysotile Institute, which looks for new and expanded markets for Asbestos in the third world.

The Liberals, including Michael Ignatieff, recently were guests and beneficiaries at an asbestos industry lobbyist fundraiser. That lobbyist was granted $60 million in financing from the Quebec Liberal gov’t just last week to re-open the Jeffrey Asbestos mine.

Asbestos is known to be a major health concern for those who inhale it.

Locally, it has led to thousands of illnesses such as mesothelioma and asbestosis. Many have suffered and died prematurely due to exposure to asbestos. Families continue to suffer the absence of their loved ones.

It is unacceptable that our country should continue the export of this dangerous product to the third world, where workers who come into contact have little or no health protections.

Please join us to make a statement about this issue.

– S.H.A.M.E (Sarnia’s Hometown Activist Movement Emerging)

[On Facebook –]

Industry flares

As seen by Kathy in Port Huron, Michigan –

Kathy Jo Berry:

“Huge flare tonight, lit up my living room. Tried to call it in to spills line, but toll free doesn’t work from the U.S. Finally got through with some help from a friend. The photo doesn’t really show the magnitude of it.

When I called the ministry, they said they were going to call ESSO. A few minutes later the flame diminished significantly and was almost invisible. My guess is that they told the ministry that nothing was going on, and stopped the dirty burn off.

I contacted the times herald the next morning, but they never got back to me.”

April 4th – Land of Destiny film, arts, and discussion event

A FREE showing of Land of Destiny, followed by Q&A with the director, and with members of the community that is profiled in the film. Photos from the area also will be shown.

Monday, April 4th at 7pm at the University of Western Ontario, in London

This event will take place in the Council Chambers, on the third floor of the University Community Centre (UCC 315) at UWO (see these campus maps –
People from off-campus definitely are invited as well.

Land of Destiny is a film about the health, jobs, families, and the everyday lives of residents of Sarnia, Ontario. The film is a portrait of a working-class city in paralysis, and a look at when and what people fight for.

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