Ontario’s sewage plants pollute with impunity

October 13, 2009

The 2008 Environmental Compliance Reports have been posted on the Ontario Ministry of Environment web site, and the news is not good.

Reports of non-compliance at 102 municipal sewage facilities fill 111 pages. Some of the province’s biggest cities ā€“ Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton, London ā€“ show up in the reports.

Also on the list are a number of chronic offenders. The City of Brockville’s water pollution control plant exceeded permitted limits for biochemical oxygen demand in all but two months of 2008. Although the Ministry lists 19 exceedances, it issued orders in response to just four of them.

Sarnia’s Brights Grove lagoons exceeded permitted levels of ammonia, biochemical oxygen demand, phosphorus, and suspended solids nine times. Sarnia’s wastewater treatment plant exceeded limits for ammonia, ammonium, chlorine residual, E. coli, phosphorus, and suspended solids another 14 times, bringing the city’s exceedances to a shameful total of 23, not one of which resulted in a Ministerial order.

Other repeat offenders that managed to avoid Ministerial orders include the Regional Municipality of Waterloo (with 17 exceedances at 6 facilities), the Town of Lakeshore (with12 exceedances at 3 facilities), the Town of Hawkesbury (with 9 exceedances) and the Township of Asphodel-Norwood (with 8 exceedances).

If environmental offenders routinely escape punishment, what incentives do they have to obey the law?

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