Thursday, October 10, 2013

Ontario's Environmental Commissioner Weighs in on Environmental Penalties for Spills to Air

Review of Application R2012014:
2.2.15 Need for Environmental Penalties for Spills to Air
(Review Denied by MOE)

 Keywords: Environmental Protection Act (EPA); Ontario Water Resources Act (OWRA); air
pollution; air quality

 Background/Summary of Issues

Under the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) or the Ontario Water Resources Act (OWRA), the
Ministry of the Environment (MOE) can issue an environmental penalty order as an abatement tool
to require certain violators to pay a penalty when a spill or unlawful discharge to water or land
occurs. Currently, MOE cannot issue environmental penalty orders for air violations. In December
2012, the ECO received an application requesting a review of the legislation, regulations and
mechanisms that enable the environmental penalties program, in order to consider expanding the
scope of the program to include discharges and emissions of pollutants to air, including a review of
section 182 of the EPA and O. Reg. 222/07 – Environmental Penalties made under the EPA.

The application was sent to MOE for consideration.

Environmental Penalties

MOE uses a number of compliance and enforcement tools to address violations of the ministry’s
laws; the tool used should be proportionate to the risk presented by the incident, the compliance
history, and the response of the violator. The variety of tools available to MOE includes education
and outreach, warnings, orders and prosecutions.

An environmental penalty order is a mandatory abatement tool that is used by MOE to encourage
companies to comply with environmental laws and to allow for swift remedial action in the event of
a spill, discharge, or other environmental violation. An order can only be issued to the
approximately 140 facilities that belong to one of nine industrial sectors prescribed in the
Municipal-Industrial Strategy for Abatement regulations. The issuance of an order is not a form of
prosecution; in fact, a person can be given an order and prosecuted for the same violation. MOE’s
Compliance Policy (2007) recommends the use of environmental penalty orders as an option for
responding to violations that fall into compliance categories II and III, which are generally more
severe. In Part 3.4 of our 2007/2008 Annual Report, the ECO observed that environmental penalties
should provide MOE staff with “a faster, less resource intensive, and less costly means of bringing
contraveners into compliance with provincial environmental laws” than prosecutions alone.

Expanding the Framework to Air Pollution

The applicants alleged that under the current regulatory framework, it is challenging for MOE to
swiftly and successfully prosecute air violations. According to the applicants, the absence of court charges and fines for air violators over the past several years demonstrates the need for more tools
to penalize air polluters. The applicants stated that, while charges and fines for air violations are
rare,  this is not an indication of compliance, as Hamilton industrial operators regularly violate
Ontario’s opacity rules, but are rarely, if ever, charged and fined.

The applicants stated that the significant health and economic costs associated with poor air quality
justify the need to ensure MOE has effective tools for abatement.

The applicants requested that MOE undertake a review to consider broadening the framework to
include spills to air, since the environmental penalties framework has proven to be beneficial for
spills to land and water. They suggested that expanding the program could provide a viable and
efficient abatement approach to ensuring that Ontario’s air rules are upheld, and assist in reducing
air emissions.

The Ontario Community Environment Fund

The funds collected through environmental penalty orders are directed to the Ontario Community
Environment Fund (OCEF), a dedicated fund that is used to support local projects focused on
environmental remediation, research and education relating to spills and restoration of the
environment, and projects related to spill preparedness, in the areas where the violations occurred.
The applicants proposed that, should MOE expand the environmental penalty program to include
spills to air, funds collected from penalties could be used for projects and initiatives focused on
research and education related to spills to air, similar to the OCEF. This would assist in making
necessary improvements to air quality and public health in Ontario communities.

Five-Year Review

Under the EPA, at least every five years, the Minister of the Environment is required to review the
operation of the environmental penalty program, including its effects on prosecutions, and provide
any recommendations on the contraventions to which, and circumstances in which, orders should be
issued. The applicants requested that the five-year review consider the expansion of the scope of
environmental penalties to include air emissions.

MOE completed its first five-year review of the program in December 2012, and found that
between August 2007 and December 2011, the ministry issued 62 environmental penalty orders for
132 violations, resulting in a total contribution of $779,482.45 to the OCEF. MOE found that
environmental penalties “fill a niche in the compliance toolkit that provides a sufficient deterrent
to unlawful discharges and allows the ministry to address non-compliance faster and more effective
than other compliance and enforcement tools.” The review did not consider or recommend
expanding the program.

 Ministry Response

In February 2013, MOE informed the applicants that it had completed its preliminary assessment of
the application and denied the review. The ministry stated that its assessment was based on the
evidence provided by the applicants, information in MOE’s files, and the Environmental Penalty
Program Five Year Review (December 2012).

MOE stated that Ontario already has a strong framework of policies, acts and regulations for
managing emissions to air and protecting air quality. The ministry advised the applicants that it is
implementing a number of measures that will further address air emissions, improve air quality, and
work to reduce both local and regional air pollution impacts in communities. This includes the

national Air Quality  Management System and Actions addressing: industrial emissions (eg sector-based technical standards under  O. Reg. 419/05 – Local Air Quality, made under the EPA),  mobile source emissions (e.g., Drive Clean program); and local community concerns (e.g.,
working with the Clarkson and Oakville communities).

The ministry advised the applicants that its existing compliance and enforcement toolkit includes a
range of tools for air violations such as education, voluntary abatement plans, orders, the issuance,
suspension or revocation of environmental compliance approvals, and prosecution. For example, the
ministry’s compliance program targets priority areas and focuses on activities that pose the highest
environmental risk. MOE further stated that “each situation is evaluated on a case-by-case basis to
determine which abatement or enforcement tool is most appropriate for obtaining quick action to
mitigate the effects of the violation, achieving compliance with environmental laws, and improve
environmental performance in the immediate and long term.”

MOE stated that Ontario’s air quality continues to improve. For example, both emissions and
outdoor levels of air pollution have decreased significantly over the past decade. MOE also
indicated that the matters sought to be reviewed are otherwise subject to periodic review and that
it completed and published its first environmental penalty program review report in December

Other Information

In 2011, MOE conducted an investigation under the Environmental Bill of Rights, 1993 over concerns
of dust emissions from the Essroc Canada Inc. (Essroc) cement manufacturing facility, north of the
Town of Picton. In reviewing MOE’s handling of that application, the ECO was disturbed that MOE’s
response was exceedingly slow and weak despite the ministry’s knowledge that Essroc’s fugitive
emissions were causing adverse effects for the applicants and area residents for almost a decade.
The ECO further found it problematic that the ministry was unable to complete the necessary
background work before the limitation period to lay charges expired, and suggested that the
ministry assess its investigative capacity and the sufficiency of the limitation period in the EPA. For
more information, see Chapter 5.3 of Part 2 of the ECO’s 2011/2012 Annual Report.

ECO Comment

The applicants raised valid points on the need for more compliance and enforcement tools to
address air violations, and the ECO believes that MOE should have at least conducted a review to
consider an expansion of the environmental penalties program.

MOE’s five-year review of the environmental penalties program found that it fills “a niche in the
compliance toolkit” because it deters unlawful discharges to land and water and allows the ministry
to address non-compliance faster and more effectively than other compliance and enforcement
tools for land and water violations. Like land and water pollution, air pollution can have adverse
effects on environmental and human health. Yet, MOE cannot issue an environmental penalty order
when a spill or unlawful discharge occurs to air. The ECO previously suggested in our 2007/2008
Annual Report that MOE consider, during its five-year review, extending the environmental
penalties program to include air.
The ECO believes that there may be a gap in MOE’s compliance and enforcement toolkit to address
air violations, as the applicants highlighted through the absence of court charges and fines for air
violators in recent years. As reported in our 2011/12 Annual Report, MOE’s slow and feeble response
in the Essroc case illustrates the need for better compliance and enforcement options for air.
Expanding the environmental penalties program to include air violations could fill this gap by
discouraging illegal discharges and enabling the ministry to address non-compliance quicker and
more effective than other compliance and enforcement tools.

The applicants also raised a convincing suggestion that, if the environmental penalties program
were extended to include air spills, MOE could also expand the OCEF to allow the funds to be used
for projects and initiatives focused on research and education related to spills to air. The ECO is

disappointed that MOE did not even comment on this suggestion.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Environmental Penalties for Spills to Air – An Epic Saga

Back in July of 2005, the Province of Ontario passed a  ‘environmental spills bill’ enabling front line staff in the  Ministry of the Environment   to issue environmental penalties’ or ‘EPs’ to polluters for spills to land and water.   A recently issued 5 year review of the implementation of the EPs program confirmed that this approach has been a resounding success.    In the review, the MOE explains that:

“(E)nvironmental penalties fill a niche in the compliance toolkit that provides a
sufficient deterrent to unlawful discharges and allow the ministry to address non-
compliance faster and more effectively than other compliance and enforcement tools. 

The report also notes that “(E)nvironmental penalties can be issued quickly compared to the time required to undertake a prosecution.  This will encourage facilities to take swift action to abate the effects of the contravention and prevent its recurrence”. 

One glaring omission from the MOE spills bill that every Hamiltonian needs to be aware of and concerned about is the fact that THERE ARE NO EPs FOR SPILLS TO AIR!  However, this reality is not due to lack of effort from concerned Hamiltonians to see the environmental penalties program expanded to include spills to air. 

The Clean Air Hamilton Attempt
The first local effort to see EPs for spills to air emerged a year ago through conversations at a Clean Air Hamilton  (CAH) meeting.    There was general agreement around the table at the time that EPs for spills to air made a lot of sense as an additional tool to help to tackle problem emissions.  A suggestion was made that CAH prepare and submit an Application for Review under the Ontario Environmental Bill of Rights requesting that the MOE review the relevant legislation/regulations and consider including EPs for spills to air. 

The application was prepared by several CAH members, including me, and was brought back to the group’s November 2012 meeting for discussion.    But it was at that meeting that it became very clear that there were CAH members who did not support the submission of the application.  Representatives from the city’s two steel mills stated very emphatically that they did not believe EPs for spills to air would lead to more action from them as they felt they were already doing all that they could be doing to address their air emission challenges and EPs wouldn’t lead to additional improvements.   Further, they stated that CAH functions on the basis of consensus, and they – as members of CAH -  were unwilling to support the submission.   

EH Signs On to Environmental Bill of Rights Submission – MOE Declines Request
The application was, therefore, not submitted through Clean Air Hamilton.  Instead,  two individuals signed on (including me as a representative of Environment Hamilton) and submitted the Application for Review. 

The MOE decision on the Application for Review came in January of this year, right after the release of the MOE 5 Year Review of the EPs for spills to land and water program.  The MOE decision on the application was that “...the public interest does not warrant the requested review.”  While the review acknowledged that “...the Environmental Penalty Program for spills to land and water has been beneficial toward achieving compliance and effective at reducing violations”, the MOE was still unwilling to consider EPs for spills to air.   The reasons, in summary, were as follows:

            Some measure of MOE resources would be required to conduct a review of this
            request.  All available MOE resources are currently dedicated to implementing the
            MOE’s existing air quality management framework as well as upcoming initiatives
            that will further address industrial emissions to air.

The decision from the MOE was disappointing to say the least.    While we continue here at Environment Hamilton to document and report problems with visible emissions from the industrial we are becoming increasingly frustrated that there is not a effective tool in place to help MOE staff to take swift and decisive action where these chronic visible emission problems are concerned. It’s no wonder to us that these emission problems have become chronic.

The ArcelorMittal Dofasco Charges for 13 ‘Spills to Air’
And right on the heels of our failed attempt to convince the MOE, through the Environmental Bill of Rights process, to consider including EPs for spills to air to the environmental penalties legislation, we learned that 13 charges had been laid against ArcelorMittal Dofasco for visible emission violations.   This triggered the start of a series of court appearances starting on April 2nd  when a brief appearance occurred with the agreement that MOE would disclose all evidence to the company’s lawyers in preparation for a second court date set for June 4th.  At that June session we then learned that MOE had failed to disclose any of its evidence so the Justice of the Peace ordered that disclosure happen by August 9th in preparation for a September 3rd court appearance.  Incredibly enough, we arrived to observe the third court session  only to learn that MOE had not disclosed any of its evidence until a week before the September 3rd appearance, despite the order from the Justice.    This put the power in the hands of the company, and  their solicitors took full advantage by requesting an adjournment until December 3rd of this year, arguing that they only had the evidence for a week, and the MOE’s lawyers were in no position to argue against the 3 month adjournment.  And so, the MOE has essentially caused an already long and drawn out court process to become even longer!   It is likely the company won’t see any fines for violations that took place in 2012, until 2014!

Utter Frustration Leads to EH Request to Meet with MOE Deputy Minister
The combination of the failure of the Application for Review and the ridiculous delays around the ArcelorMittal Dofasco court proceedings left us here at Environment Hamilton, along with many community members,  feeling utterly frustrated.  Our experiences to date have left us even more convinced than ever before that EPs for spills to air are a necessary and critical tool for MOE abatement staff to have available in their toolkit if we are ever to see chronic visible emission problems  resolved in Hamilton’s industrial core. 

And so, we requested an opportunity for Environment Hamilton to meet with the MOE’s Deputy Minister, Paul Evans. Evans is the highest ranking bureaucrat within the MOE.  We were pleased when Evans agreed to a meeting which would also include the MOE’s Assistant Deputy Minister Karen Matthews.  The meeting took place on September 30th in Toronto.  I attended as the representative of Environment Hamilton.
The meeting served as a good opportunity to share Environment Hamilton’s frustration with the AM-Dofasco court proceedings but also, more importantly, to express EH’s concern about the lack of MOE willingness to consider EPs for spills to air.   An extensive collection of emission photographs was shared with the DM and ADM in order for them to see what EH and other community members are observing on a regular basis in the industrial core (view them all in the ‘Spills to Air’  photo album in the album section on Environment Hamilton’s Facebook page).  We talked about the steel mills and the scrap yards as particularly problematic sources of emissions.  And I shared EH’s reservations over the ability of the MOE’s current air regulatory framework to resolve the chronic visible emission problems  that impact  our community – especially neighbourhood near the industrial core.    Despite sitting around a boardroom table covered in not-so-pretty pictures, the DM made it clear that there is no interest at the MOE in pursuing EPs for spills to air at this time.   I asked why there was no interest and he cited a number of issues including: 

1. The requirement to create a program to direct any fine monies collected to community
    programs that address air quality issues. 
2. The challenge in defining the impacted area - Spills to water are defined as occurring within
    watersheds and fine monies collected within a given  watershed are disbursed to initiatives
    within these boundaries.   To do this for air would be a challenge as air pollution can travel
    extended distances. 

3. The requirement to amend the Environmental Protection Act and associated regulations in
     order to include spills to air and the timing of this requirement.   

The DM also spoke about the pursuit of technical standards for the iron and steel and federal level efforts to develop an Air Quality Management System (AQMS) that includes the delineation of air zones as two emerging pieces of the provincial air framework.  Both the DM and the ADM expressed strong optimism that the provincial air management framework has or is getting what it needs to resolve chronic visible emission problems. 

Environment Hamilton has been actively engaged in various ways in both the provincial and federal level processes and we simply do not share the optimism expressed byt the DM and ADM.   With all due respect to the DM and ADM, we are left feeling that none of the reasons provided by MOE are adequate to justify not pursuing an EPs program for spills to air.  We are also not convinced that the air framework – even with the additional pieces that are coming – will be enough to resolve challenges with chronic visible emissions.  We will continue to push for the province to develop and implement an Environmental Penalties Program for Spills to Air.   Consider calling your Member of Provincial Parliament and telling them that you want to see an EPs Program for Spills to Air!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


I did my 'pollution pedal' on my bike commute to the Environment Hamilton office this am.  The ride takes me along Burlington Street and I eventually cut through the Keith Neighbourhood to get in to the downtown core.  I pass right by the old Studebaker Factory - a huge brownfield site which is currently being redeveloped by UrbanCore so that smaller, light industries can move in. It's a great project which has involved extensive effort by the developer to reclaim and reuse as much material as possible.  I learned from Sergio Manchia, whose company is redeveloping the site, that efforts have included salvaging wood beams from the buildings on the site, and reclaiming the steel and bricks.  The efforts to reclaim and reuse are impressive - a model that all redevelopers should be following.

There has also been a great deal of activity on the site breaking concrete floors and foundations down to gravel / aggregate form right on site.  I've watched over weeks now as jackhammers, backhoes and crushers have worked on site.  On most of the days that I've cycled past the area, the dust has been kept to a minimum, likely as a result of water sprays on the crusher.   But today was different, with large plumes of fine dust billowing up and blowing to the east - right into the residential area on Emerald near Mars Avenue.

I imagine these particulate plumes have to be creating problems for people living in the Keith Neighbourhood.  The stuff is fine enough that it's likely getting into houses and is definitely coating cars, lawn furniture and any kids toys that are outside.  So I decided I didn't want to leave the area until I talked to someone at the work site.  I cycled down Victoria - till I found an entrance.  Little sidebar - chatted with a man there to buy some old bricks for his home - another great example of reuse of materials from the site.  I ended up speaking with a man named Aidan - explaining to him that I was concerned about all of the particulate being generated at the site today, especially when I hadn't seen such an extreme problem there before.  He explained that the particulate being generated right now is so fine, it keeps plugging the nozzles of the water sprayers.  That comment gave me the opportunity to explain that it is the fine particulate that has the greatest potential to impact on people's health.  I noted that the site is right beside a large residential area and directly north of a medical centre.  He said that he would deal with my concern.  I left just as the equipment was all shut down.

I returned again on my lunch break - curious to see whether the problem was, indeed, resolved.  The picture below confirms it - the work continued but the dust clouds were gone!  It confirmed for me yet again that we can all play a role in ensuring problems like this don't occur - especially when there is really no excuse for allowing them to happen in the first place!

Environment Hamilton has been working to raise awareness and generate action to reduce particulate pollution in Hamilton.   We believe there are many forms of particulate pollution that constitute 'low hanging fruit'.  These problems shouldn't be occurring and the solutions are usually pretty straightforward to implement.  Click here to learn more about what you can do as a concerned community member!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The saga continues - more problems with scrapyard metal cutting emissions!

Hamilton has a growing number of active scrapyards.  Environment Hamilton continues to track activities at Hamilton scrap yards because many of them want to or are already using oxypropane metal cutting torches to cut up large pieces of metal.  The problem is this - these torches generate significant air emissions if not properly controlled. And, in our experience, there has been a chronic problem in this community (we're talking for many years now) with yards that have failed to properly control these cutters.  Emissions generated from cutting include high levels of fine particulate matter (small enough that we inhale it but our lungs have a hard time getting it back out), heavy metals, and various other chemicals.  Quite frankly, we at Environment Hamilton have come to conclude that effectively controlling these cutters in an open scrapyard setting is not a viable option. We are pushing for the provincial Ministry of the Environment to require those yards that opt to use these cutters, to use them in indoor facilities with proper pollution control.

This past holiday weekend provided more support for our point of view.  Triple M Metals has a scrap yard located at the very end of Parkdale Avenue North and on the south edge of the Windermere Basin.   The company has an air permit from the Ministry of the Environment that includes approval for the use of oxypropane cutting torches.  That permit required the company to develop and implement a 'best management practices' protocol to ensure that the air emissions from the cutting torches was minimized.   Well, so much for best management practices......   Yesterday (Holiday Monday), I came across this scene as I cycled through Windermere Basin Park in the east end of the city:

We've lodged a formal complaint with the Hamilton District Office of the Ministry of the Environment.   Clearly, Triple M is not following best practices.  This situation continued on yesterday like this for the 45+ minutes that I was down in the area.   We can't tolerate this sort of behaviour in Hamilton!

Meanwhile, the Ministry of the Environment has explained to us that they have required other yards (including Sunrise Metals - a yard we've reported on already because of their serious cutting emissions) to use a best management practices protocol already in use by another local scrapyard.  While the MOE won't confirm this, we know that it's Triple M's protocol they're requiring the other yards to follow.  We've asked for a copy of the protocol the MOE is making other yards use, but have been told that the protocol is 'proprietary information'. Hmmm..... we've pointed out that, because MOE is using the protocol for regulatory purposes, the public should be able to obtain and review it.  It looks as though we'll need to submit a Freedom of Information request to get a copy - but after what we saw this past weekend, we want to know that much more what the best management practices protocol actually requires.  Either it's being blatantly ignored by players like Triple M, or it's far from being a 'best management practices' protocol!

REMEMBER - If you ever see emissions like this coming from a local scrapyard, take the time to report what you see to the provincial Ministry of the Environment.  During regular office hours, call them at (905) 521-7650 or after hours at 1-800-268-6060.  Ideally, you'll need to be prepared to provide the name/address of the facility.  Taking a photo is always a great idea too!  And feel free to contact us here at EH if you see these problems.  We can help with documenting and reporting!

Friday, July 26, 2013

A stinky summer at Bunge!

Have you noticed the bad odours around the Bunge Plant down at Burlington and Victoria?  We’ve been talking with residents from the area who are telling us they can’t even open their windows in this nice, breezy weather because the stink is so bad.   If you live down there and the odour is impacting on your ability to open your windows or sit out and enjoy your yard, be sure to take the time to call the provincial Ministry of the Environment and file a formal complaint.  Under the provincial Environmental Protection Act, you have a right to be able to use and enjoy your property without experiencing ‘adverse impacts’. 

During regular office hours call the Hamilton District Office of the Ministry of the Environment at (905) 521-7650.   After hours call the Spills Action Centre at  1-800-268-6060.  
When you call, be sure to indicate that you would like to make a formal complaint, tell the officer the source of the odour, and explain how the odour is impacting on your ability to enjoy your property. 
We’ve learned over many years that the squeaky wheel gets the oil.  Call the MOE every time you experience the odour impacts – and encourage your neighbours to do the same. 

You can also call the company directly with your concerns.  Their telephone number is (905) 527-9121.

Bunge has an Environmental Compliance Approval from the Ministry, which includes an ‘odour abatement plan’ that they must follow to prevent odour impacts on their neighbours.   Their permit also requires them to track and properly respond to community complaints about their operations.  Click here to access the full text of the company’s permit.   

Friday, July 12, 2013


Have you heard of Environment Hamilton's DustBusters initiative? It's a simple initiative designed to encourage people to report any 'fugitive dust emissions' they see in their neighbourhood. You can read more about how you can become  a DustBuster by clicking here.

At Environment Hamilton, we look at dust issues as being 'low hanging fruit' from a local air quality point of view.  Dust is a problem that can be mitigated with proper management - controlling dust effectively usually does not require high tech pollution control equipment.  But the benefits of controlling dust, from a human health point of view are significant.  Eliminating fine, respirable dust particles from our local air has huge positive impacts on community health!

So, the next time you see a dust problem, make sure you take the time to call it in.   You might be pleasantly surprised at how quickly you see action.  For instance, I spotted the problem below on my ride in to the EH office this morning.  This is a classic example of a fugitive dust problem - in this instance, at US Steel's yard off of Burlington Street near Ottawa Street.   A quick email to the company with a picture of the problem generated a response indicating that the dusty roadway would be watered down today!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Sunrise Metals - Take Action!

Environment Hamilton has learned that, as far back as 2012, the Ministry of the Environment’s (MOE) Hamilton office received community complaints about visible air pollution emissions from the Sunrise Metals scrap yard. In the spring of this year, we started to see the problems too, and filed a formal complaint with the MOE. At the same time that we filed our complaint, we asked staff at the MOE’s Hamilton District Office whether the company had the necessary air permit to be using a metal cutting torch. We waited for over a month, but never received a reply from the District Office, despite sending a follow-up request.

But we got the answer to our question when we saw a proposal posted on the provincial Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) on-line registry ( The proposal explained that Sunrise was applying for a provincial air permit so that it could use metal cutting torches at its site. The posting also indicated that the public would have until July 15th to comment on the application. The EBR posting confirmed for us that the company was using metal cutting torches –and subsequently generating severe visible air pollution emissions – without an air permit in place. So we arranged - as is anyone’s right to do when a proposal is on the registry - to review the air permit application file at MOE’s Hamilton office. In that file, we found the company’s application document which included a copy of an MOE order issued to Sunrise in March of this year. The order recognized that the company was required to secure an air permit to use cutting torches, and acknowledged that the company had been cutting without a permit – leaving open the potential for an ‘adverse environmental impact’ which would be in contravention of the provincial Environmental Protection Act. Incredibly enough, the order did not require the company to stop cutting until a permit had been secured!

Fast forward to Tuesday, June 18th. At around 8:15 pm, I was cycling home after an evening meeting and decided to take my northerly route from downtown past the industrial core. When I got to Brant Street, along the stretch between Wentworth Street and Sherman Avenue, I wondered whether there was a fire somewhere in the neighbourhood. The air along Brant looked hazy and smoky and there was a strange smell in the air. When I got to Sherman and started to head north toward Burlington Street, I knew what the problem was! There were horrible, rust coloured emissions rising up from the Sunrise Metals yard. The company was obviously cutting metal scrap full out with their cutting torches and putting absolutely no effort into controlling the emissions. Clearly, the MOE approach of allowing the company to cut prior to securing a permit was not working. I documented the situation with a series of photos and reported what I saw to the MOE’s Hamilton District Office the next day. Thankfully, the MOE has since ordered Sunrise to cease all metal cutting in their yard until they secure a permit. But we ended up suffering the impact of cutting that was happening when there is a strong argument to be made that it should not have been allowed. Now we all have an opportunity to provide input on Sunrise Metal’s air permit application. Environment Hamilton will be preparing a detailed submission and we’re encouraging community members to do the same. If you’re interested in submitting comments, you can do so by visiting the provincial Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) registry at . To access the Sunrise Metals proposal, search for EBR post number 011-9270 or search via the facility name – Sunrise Metals. You can provide your comments to the MOE on-line. Here are some suggestions for issues you might consider raising in your comments: -Sunrise must be required to adequately control the metal cutting emission generated by its cutting torches -The ideal solution is for the MOE to require the company to cut large metal pieces indoors in a facility with proper pollution control. This is the standard request Environment Hamilton has been making on every scrap yard’s application for an air permit. -MOE should not be permitting these yards to continue to cut while they wait for their air permits to be approved. -MOE should be requiring all scrap yards in the province that are using cutting torches to cut large metal pieces, to apply for air permits. If you are planning to prepare comments but would some additional guidance, feel free to contact me at the Environment Hamilton office at (905) 549-0900.