A Sarnia environmental group says the Ministry of the Environment has to do more to stop a hazardous waste site from fouling the air.
Seven times in the last six weeks, people around Clean Harbors south of Sarnia were overcome by a powerful odour. Some people suffered headaches and vomited because of the smell. The latest incident was Sept. 21.
Jim Stenton, one of the neighbors affected, said it wasn’t as powerful as the last release, but it was enough to drive visitors from his home and wake him in his sleep.
The MOE [claims to be] working with Clean Harbors to solve the problem. The company has already tarped a leachate pond suspected of causing the majority of the odours. But the MOE is looking for a comprehensive plan to deal with the waste water on the site which has gathered over the years.
Zak Nichols is with SHAME. He was one of seven people who protested in front of the ministry’s office on London Road in the rain recently. He says more has to be done.
But Nichols wouldn’t say shutting down Clean Harbor’s is the answer.
“I’m not sure if shutting down is what has to be done but whatever they are doing right now isn’t working,” he says.
“It just seems to me when you have people getting suddenly ill, vomiting and calling paramedics there is definitely an off-site impact and there is no excuse not to be taking action to protect these people.”
Nichols adds the local MOE officers are only working within the orders they get from the provincial ministry. He says the Minister of the Environment, John Wilkinson, has to step in and order tougher action.
“The local MOE office here is not the one setting policy, they’re following policy and policy it appears policy is the problem.
“It seems to me the policy from higher up is not to take action…It should be one of the biggest (election) issues in this time,” says Nichols.
“Part of me just feels the MOE is protecting the corporate citizen instead of the residents who live around Chemical Valley industry.”
The MOE has given Clean Harbors until mid-October to come up with a plan to stop the odours.