Local mill among top polluters: report

A report released earlier this week by the Sierra Legal Defence Fund named the Abitibi-Consolidated pulp and paper mill in Fort Frances as one of the province’s “Dirty Dozen Polluters”—the worst violators of Ontario’s air and water pollution laws, according to the organization.
The report, called “Cracking Down on Polluters,” provided a detailed analysis of government data on air and water pollution violations for 2001, the most recent year for which data is available, and advocates for stronger enforcement of provincial pollution laws.
“The province turned a blind eye to polluters over the past decade,” said report author Dr. Elaine Mac- Donald, a staff scientist with the Sierra Legal Defence Fund.
“Now is the time for the new government to crack down on those companies that have been violating our laws with impunity,” added the group’s managing lawyer, Jerry DeMarco.
The report documents that in 2001 there were more than 2,300 violations of provincial wastewater laws, including violations of pollutant limits, sewage spills, and bypasses, as well as violations of administrative procedures.
Although violations of air pollution limits for 2001 appear to be less numerous than illegal wastewater discharges, with government data showing at least 1,000 violations, the actual number of violations of Ontario’s air standards is not known.
“Violations of Ontario’s air pollution laws are both under-reported and under-monitored,” charged MacDonald. “Many facilities were only caught because the government did an inspection.
“Of even greater concern is the fact that hundreds of facilities operated without full government approval.”^The list of Ontario’s “Dirty Dozen Polluters” includes many companies that have been in chronic non-compliance with air and water pollution laws for several years, according to the Sierra Legal Defence Fund.
Chinook Group Limited (Sombra) and Stepan Canada Inc. (Ramara) top the list of the worst offenders with 355 and 341 wastewater violations, respectively, in 2001.
The six worst offenders of air pollution laws included Tembec Industries (Smooth Rock Falls), Abitibi-Consolidated (Fort Frances), Norampac Inc. (Thunder Bay), Bowater Pulp and Paper (Thunder Bay), Kimberly Clark Inc. (Terrace Bay), and Marathon Pulp Inc. (Marathon).
The top six violators of wastewater violations also included Haley Industries (Renrew), London-Oxford Water Pollution Control Plant (London), Cabot Canada Ltd. (Sarnia), and Stelco Hilton Works (Hamilton).
Sierra Legal has been producing annual reports on noncompliance with pollution laws since the province stopped providing full information to the public in 1999.
The reports document violations of provincial pollution laws that have been self-reported to the province by polluters.
Sierra Legal collected this information each year through Freedom of Information requests.
The full report is available at www.sierralegal.org The Times tried to Abitibi- Consilidated’s media relations department in Montreal, but received no response prior to press time today.
Local mill general manager John Harrison was out of town on business.