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In Sarnia's Chemical Valley, is 'toxic soup' making people sick?

Cribb, Robert; McIntosh, Emma; Jarvis, Carolyn

Publisher:  Thestar.com
Date Written:  14/10/2017
Year Published:  2017  
Resource Type:  Article

Experts and documents cast doubts on whether industry and Ontario government are revealing levels of benzene in areas where residents live right near oil and gas facilities.



SARNIA, ONT. -- In the hours before daylight on Feb. 8, 2014, toxic benzene leaking from a Sarnia chemical plant wafted toward the homes of the Sherwood Village neighbourhood in the shadow of the city's industrial stacks.

"Yeah, I can smell it," muttered Dwayne DeBruyne, a plant employee at the Plains Midstream Canada chemical plant who reported the incident just after 6 a.m. to a provincial government hotline for spills.

"So it's a spill?" the operator from the Spills Action Centre in Toronto is heard asking on a recording of the call, obtained through a freedom-of-information request.

"I wouldn't classify it as a spill," he says. "It's an odour release."

"I mean, it sounds like a spill to me," she counters.

DeBruyne concedes with a slight laugh, "OK, we'll call it a spill … It's very contained."

Not so, government records show.

Benzene -- which causes cancer at high levels of long-term exposure -- was already spreading.

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