QUEEN’S PARK—During question period Thursday, Ontario NDP Environment and Climate Change critic Peter Tabuns called on the Wynne government to stop ignoring the concerns of the Aamjiwnaang First Nation and Sarnia families and to finally launch an investigation into a massive flaring incident at a petroleum refinery earlier this year, as well as the provincial government’s response to the incident. Tabuns’ question comes as an application was filed with the Environmental Commissioner calling for an investigation into the incident, which released large burning plumes of toxic gases that terrified nearby residents.
“The applicants allege that on February 23 of this year, a malfunction at a petroleum refinery in Chemical Valley resulted in massive flaring that continued for 10 days,” said Tabuns. “During this incident, residents in Aamjiwnaang and south Sarnia were unable to get any response from the ministry about what was going on and whether they were in any danger.”
On Feb. 23, 2017 a malfunction at Imperial Oil in Sarnia caused massive sour gas flaring and released hazardous gases and sulphur dioxide into the air. Applicants allege that Imperial Oil violated the Environmental Protection Act and Ontario’s air quality regulations. While the incident alarmed residents, the Wynne Liberals failed to inform the Aamjiwnaang First Nation and south Sarnia families that they were breathing harmful toxins.
“Residents of Aamjiwnaang and South Sarnia experienced foul odour, significant vibration of houses, rattling of windows, and loud noise from the flare,” said Tabuns. “It must have been terrifying. The application also alleges that this incident caused a fire at the facility and at another petrochemical facility next door. Despite receiving complaints about the incident, the ministry did not conduct air monitoring during the incident. Residents don’t know what toxins were emitted.”
“Will the premier order an investigation and get these families the answers they deserve?” asked Tabuns