July 19, 2004

Environmental orders issued to five Sarnia petrochemical facilities

The Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MOE) last week ordered five more petrochemical facilities in the Sarnia area to take measures to comply with provincial environmental laws. Provincial officer orders were issued to the following companies: Terra International (Canada), Katoen Natie Canada, Invista (Canada), Basell Canada and Air Products Canada.

The orders followed inspections conducted over the past two months by the Environmental SWAT Team. The SWAT inspections did not find any immediate human health impacts of concern. The five companies have been directed to meet more than 50 conditions in order to come into compliance. Items in the orders include creating spill contingency plans, seeking approval for emission sources, and ensuring proper storage, transportation and disposal of wastes generated.

The inspections of these five companies were part of an overall inspection sweep of petrochemical companies in the Sarnia area initiated in April by Environment Minister Leona Dombrowsky. The purpose of the initiative is to determine whether companies in the area are complying with Ontario's environmental laws and to gather information on how spills and improper air emissions can be prevented in the future. As a result of the inspection sweep so far, eight orders have been issued to eight petrochemical facilities. While the orders issued do not carry monetary fines, they often require recipient companies to invest both time and money in order to come into compliance.

Non-compliance issues discovered during the inspections of the companies are listed below.

Terra International (Canada):

*unapproved emission sources, including: laboratory equipment, power plant and associated equipment, diesel generating set, ammonium nitrate plant and associated equipment.

*an unapproved increase in production capacity resulting in a potential increase in air emissions.

*no operations manual for a spray paint booth as required in the company's certificate of approval issued by the MOE.

*improper sewage sludge dewatering process.

*lack of a general spill contingency plan.

*poorly maintained groundwater monitoring wells.

*mixing of wastes that should be stored separately and labeled properly.

*incomplete record keeping.

*effluent discharge exceedances under the MISA (Municipal Industrial Strategy for Abatement) regulations.

Katoen Natie Canada:

*company not registered as a waste generator.

*on-site wastes, including oil, solvents and hydraulic fluids, not being properly stored, transported and removed.

*annual report on air emissions not submitted as required.

Invista (Canada):

*permitted pH levels in effluent exceeded.

*no spill prevention, control and countermeasure plan.

*lack of procedures for ensuring trucks are decontaminated before pumping processing waste.

Basell Canada:

*unapproved air emission sources from laboratory fume hoods and welding garage.

*unapproved wastewater disposal.

*emissions from a flare exceeding regulatory requirements during power failures.

Air Products Canada:

*inadequate spill containment for the storage of waste oil drums.

The orders require the companies to address these issues within a specified time period.

Where appropriate, the companies inspected may also be referred to the ministry's Investigations and Enforcement Branch for review and possible prosecution.

The Environmental SWAT Team has completed more than 3,000 inspections across Ontario in a variety of sectors, including hazardous waste transfer and processing facilities, electrometal platers and foundries. It has issued over 1,500 provincial officer orders and more than 350 tickets and summonses under the Provincial Offences Act, and has referred a number of cases to the ministry's Investigations and Enforcement Branch for further review. In addition to its continuing inspections of these facilities, the team provides information to the Industrial Pollution Action Team.

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