‘Our monitors recorded no emissions’ INEOS says

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Heather Wright/The Independent

“Our monitors recorded no emissions outside our prescribed limits.”

That from INEOS Styrolutions late Tuesday after meeting with members of the Aamjiwnaang First Nation Band Council.

The band declared a state of emergency April 25 after air quality monitors detected high levels of benzene in the air around the band office for the second time in two weeks. \

Chief Chris Plain has called for the provincial and federal government to shutdown the plant, and April 27, Styrolutions said it had temporarily closed down the plant for maintenance.

The Ministry of Environment said it had issued three orders to the plant over the April 16th event, including one which would require Styrolutions to deal with benzene in the sewer system.

Tuesday at 5:15 pm, company officials issued a news release saying “We are grateful for Chief Plain and Council members taking time to talk with us today. We look forward to continued dialogue with the Aamjiwnaang First Nation and our Sarnia community stakeholders.”

The statement goes on that the company is “concerned by the reports made by our neighbours… to the media, the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks, and the UN.”

Styrolutions says it responded immediately April 16 and is working with the Ministry of the Environment.

The company said it has invested $50 million into the Sarnia site including $4.4 million in benzene emission reduction technology. Styrolutions adds they have state of the art air quality monitors. “They continue to operate correctly.

“We have reviewed all data for the period concerned and we can confirm that our monitors recorded no emissions outside our prescribed limits.”

Aamjiwnaang Environmentalist Ada Lockridge was blunt in her assessment. “They’re just liars.”
She added the company hasn’t been sharing information with the band council as it should.

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley was also not surprised by the company’s statement. He’d met with Styrolutions officials Friday. “Their media release demonstrates the same tone as at our meeting last Friday of defense and rationalizing, not apologizing.”

He says they spent time explaining the provincial guidelines regulating the release of benzene are too stringent.

“I found them very defensive about it, saying the standards have changed and the standards are creating more alarms,” Bradley tells The Independent.

Bradley says the standards are based on science. “If you’re coming in to argue the regulations aren’t fair, that ship has sailed.

The mayor says it is not the first time the company has tried to convince him the province should ease the regulations.

“A year and a half ago, they were doing a full court press with the federal, provincial and local politicians, like myself, trying to deal with the standards, saying the standards aren’t fair they’re not reachable and all this. And it was a bit of what we’re getting into today,” he says. “That’s their job to deal with it. Any standard should be based on science, not on politics.”