The province has ordered all of the current and former owners of a north end industrial site to clean up hundreds of barrels of potentially toxic waste found earlier this month.

Ministry of the Environment district manager Geoffrey Knapper told CBC Hamilton that it is "not uncommon" in this kind of situation for past and present owners to be held liable for waste found on a site.

An MOE order lists past owners as far back as the 1980s as responsible for cleanup efforts.

"The persons named in this report and order currently own or owned or have or had management or control of an undertaking or property located at 350 Wentworth Street N.," the report reads.

The owners of the building called in the MOE on April 9 to test "unknown waste" found concealed in the basement. Though tests on the material found in the barrels have not been completed, Knapper says, "The preliminary results we're getting back say it's consistent with when we did the cleanup outside the site in 2010." The order says the waste is believed to be hazardous.

'It is not good. We cleaned it. We did not do this.' —Harry Tamber, current owner

The order says the group of owners must secure, classify and remove all waste at the site, as well as create a plan to decontaminate the building and then provide documentation to the MOE to prove the work has been done.

The report also notes that the site "is subject to ongoing entry by unauthorized personnel and appears to be vandalized regularly."

The owners were given a long list of deadlines for the cleanup, but the barrels must be removed by the end of May - barring any appeals from the owners.

Current owner Harry Tamber told CBC Hamilton that the order is troubling. "It is not good. We cleaned it," he said. "We did not do this."

"We will talk with the MOE next week and see where we will go."

City officials have for years been trying to use tax incentives to coax successive owners of 350 Wentworth Street N to clean up the site.

The offers of a break on tax interest have so far failed to ensure a compete clean-up the property.