Media Release

CELA Challenges Ontario Government on Claims over Improvement to Air Pollution

Jan 14 2011

Toronto - The Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) challenged the Ontario government over its Air Quality in Ontario, 2009 Report released today purporting to paint a rosy picture of air pollution improvements in Ontario.

What the report fails to do is address the grossly disproportionate amount of air pollution that certain communities in Ontario such as Sarnia and Hamilton are forced to shoulder. It also fails to address that it is the provincial government which issues permits to industry to discharge air pollution, without considering cumulative impacts, even in areas which already have a very high air pollution burden.

CELA has been calling on the Ontario government to change the way it controls air pollution in the province. “Ontario’s air pollution approval system is in need of major overhaul,” said Ramani Nadarajah, counsel with the Canadian Environmental Law Association. “The province has yet to enact enforceable standards for cancer causing-chemicals like benzene and benzo(a)pyrene as promised over four years ago.” Ms. Nadarajah added, “In communities like Hamilton and Sarnia, industries located very close to residential areas continue to release harmful contaminants into Ontario’s air.”

“When new industries locate in these communities or existing ones expand, the provincial government doesn’t consider the cumulative effects of emissions from these facilities prior to issuing permits,” said Theresa McClenaghan, CELA’s Executive Director. “The government has not yet addressed this fundamental weakness in Ontario’s air pollution laws, despite being repeatedly asked to do so.”

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Contacts:
Theresa McClenaghan, 416-662-8341
Ramani Nadarajah, 416-960-2284 ext. 217; 416-488-7106

For related information see the following:
An Examination of Pollution and Poverty in the Great Lakes Basin (2008)
Partners in Pollution 2: An Update on the Continuing Canadian and United States Contributions to Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Ecosystem Pollution (2010)