Sarnia, meet Love Canal

BENNETT BLOG / December 9th, 2014

One of the most appalling environmental tragedies in American history, Love Canal, is sending its toxic legacy to Sarnia. About 80 truckloads of material—deemed too contaminated to remain in the ground near a residential area of Wheatfield, New York—are headed for Sarnia.

There are several reasons to be concerned.

Sarnia residents, and those who live along the truck route from Love Canal, will be exposed to substantial risk from the mashed-up chemical cargo (containing powerful carcinogens). A spill, accident, or technical failure could all lead to environmental contamination. It’s another case of industry and government putting people at risk unnecessarily, and without their knowledge or permission.

They will tell you that the risk from the toxic roadtrip is “very small” and that the drivers are “very skilled”. This may be true, but there is still a substantial risk.

We’re told that sometimes there is “no choice” but to put people at risk. Is this really one of those times? Are there absolutely no other ways to deal with this toxic U.S. waste? Why doesn’t the U.S. deal with it? From our count there are at least 22 commercial toxic waste facilities there.

Another issue to consider is that the Love Canal waste is to be treated in a Sarnia facility, while 22,000 contaminated sites in the Federal Contaminated Sites Inventory continue waiting for clean up. Does it make sense that Canadian resources be devoted to cleaning up foreign waste with so much to clean up here in Canada?

I was once interviewed for the job of Greenpeace.International Waste Campaigner. The job involved drawing attention to the immoral practice of rich countries shipping toxic waste to poor countries. Corporations were taking advantage of lax environmental laws and enforcement in developing countries because it was cheaper than paying toxic waste disposal costs required under US law. Although it’s still a problem, thankfully there are now internationals agreements in place.

Here we are 25 years later and Canada has become the dumping ground for U.S. toxic waste.

Please take a moment and SEND A LETTER to the Ontario Environment Minister. It only takes a moment.

It’s urgent we stop this toxic roadtrip.

Thanks for taking action.

John Bennett, National Program Director
Sierra Club Canada Foundation
1510-1 Nicholas Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1N 7B7
John on Twitter / Bennett Blog

RELATED: Hazardous waste from infamous U.S. environmental disaster heads to Ontario, Sarnia Observer, Nov. 5, 2014