In January of 2013, Shell Canada allegedly spilled "flare
liquids", similar to gasoline, from its refinery in
Sarnia. People in a nearby First Nation (often affected by Chemical
Valley spills) experienced odours, irritation and illness. After
waiting until the end of the two year limitation period, the
Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change has charged Shell
with "discharging, or causing, or permitting a discharge of a
contaminant into the natural environment that caused or was likely
to have caused an adverse effect, contrary to the Environmental
Ecojustice describes the serious effects of
the Chemical Valley spill on the nearby First Nation:
The Aamjiwnaang First Nation is located just north of the Shell
Canada refinery where the accident happened. On the day in
question, staff at the local daycare noticed a strong "rotten
egg" smell hours before the spill was reported. Children began
to complain of red eyes and sore throats. Daycare staff cancelled
plans to take the children outside and, despite it being January in
Ontario, shut off the heating in the building to avoid drawing in
contaminated air. Those protocols are a response to what is called
a "shelter-in-place" advisory. Residents of Aamjiwnaang
are all too familiar with shelter-in-place advisories, so daycare
staff knew what to do even though no such warning had yet been
According to the information provided to Ada [a community member
working with Ecojustice] the spill was reported by Shell at 1:50
pm, more than two hours after the daycare staff and other residents
began taking action. A shelter-in-place advisory went out, although
it did not immediately include Aamjiwnaang. The emergency sirens
used to warn residents of Aamjiwnaang when accidents happen at one
of the refineries or other industrial facilities in the area
didn't sound until more than an hour after the spill was
reported and long after people began to notice the smell and
experience physical symptoms.
Air quality testing, conducted more than five hours after the
smell was detected, found elevated levels of chemicals associated
with petroleum refining around the community including the known
human carcinogen benzene which was at a particularly high level
near the daycare. In the wake of the incident, residents reported
health effects to the local health centre including headaches,
nausea, shortness of breath and skin irritation. The acute effects
are troubling, but even scarier for many residents are the poorly
understood long-term effects of repeated exposure to dangerous
chemicals over a lifetime.
– See more here.
The first court appearance will be on February 13, 2015.
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