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.