Current track



Ontario chemical company says federal, provincial governments unfairly targeting it

Written by on June 6, 2024

SARNIA, Ont. — A Sarnia, Ont., plastics plant says it is being unfairly and “relentlessly targeted” by the federal and provincial governments, which have both recently instituted new rules specifically aimed at benzene emissions from that one facility.

Earlier this week, Ontario introduced a new regulation limiting benzene emissions at Ineos Styrolution, with the government saying it is concerned about how the emissions are affecting the neighbouring Aamjiwnaang First Nation.

The province has issued four orders to Ineos Styrolution since 2019, recently temporarily shut down the facility and added new conditions to its licence that it must meet before it restarts operations, but the government says benzene levels remain elevated.

Ontario’s new regulation came shortly after new air quality standards from Environment Canada that targeted Ineos Styrolution.

In a statement Thursday, Ineos says it has consistently operated within regulatory limits, but new limits have been imposed without consultation, justification or due process.

It says the federal and provincial environment ministries are demanding unsafe timelines that would actually contribute to higher emissions.

“We will not jeopardize the safety of our employees, neighbours, and community,” the company wrote in a statement.

“It is unconscionable for the (ministries) to demand compliance with unsafe timelines and, essentially, the forced breaching of their own newly imposed regulations on our company. Despite our history of compliance, our company is being relentlessly targeted by Canadian Government agencies.”

Benzene can cause neurological symptoms such as dizziness and headaches following short-term exposures, and can cause cancers such as leukemia after long-term exposures.

It is a clear, mostly colourless liquid that is part of the makeup of crude oil. It’s used to make styrene, a lightweight plastic used in everything from auto parts and food containers to toys.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 6, 2024.

The Canadian Press