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!

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