Toxic Love Canal waste no longer to be disposed of in Ontario

Clean Harbors said it has reversed its decision to burn and bury up to 100 truckloads of Love Canal waste that was to be shipped from the U.S. to Corunna, Ont., southeast of Sarnia.

New York state neighbourhood was built on a chemical dumping ground from the 1940s and '50s

The Love Canal covered 36 blocks and was built atop more than 80 chemicals, including 11 now suspected of causing cancer. (CBC News)

Days after it began arriving, toxic waste will no longer be shipped from the infamous New York state Love Canal to a waste processing plant in Ontario.

Clean Harbors, based in Massachusetts, said it has reversed its decision to burn and bury up to 100 truckloads of waste that was to be shipped to Corunna, Ont., southeast of Sarnia.

“We decided to use our network in the states,” Clean Harbors spokesman Michael Parker said.

Trucks stopped arriving last week, just days after the first few truckloads were to be processed.

Parker said five trucks arrived and were offloaded but none was processed. The waste will be transferred from Corunna back to the U.S.

“This removes risk of further Love Canal from showing up,” said Parker..

The Love Canal covered 36 blocks and was built atop more than 80 chemicals, including 11 now suspected of causing cancer. 

The Love Canal was a U.S. neighbourhood built on a chemical dumping ground from the 1940s and '50s. The site contained chemicals and toxins dating from the Second World War.

The waste that was to come to Canada was from a smaller dump a few kilometres from the Love Canal. The smaller dump in Glen Springs, N.Y., contained material that had previously been moved from the Love Canal site.

“Clean Harbors Environmental Services, Incorporated is taking the initiative to make alternative disposal arrangements for the Glen Springs, New York remediation project waste utilizing our network of incineration and landfill disposal assets in the United States,” Parker wrote in an email to St. Clair Township Mayor Steve Arnold and obtained by CBC.

“We are working closely with Glen Springs Holdings, the site owner and operator, to develop the necessary transportation and logistics plans to re-direct their remediation waste to another facility, within our comprehensive Treatment, Storage and Disposal network.”

Arnold praised the decision in an emailed reply.

“All of Lambton County appreciate you ensuring the reassignment of the processing destination. It is a testament to CH's [Clean Harbors] desire to work constructively with the local municipality and our First Nations neighbours,” Arnold wrote.

No complaints from public

Parker told CBC News the company never directly heard complaints from the community.

“Everything I read was in the press,” he said of complaints.

Parker said the decision to stop receiving waste from New York was made for “a series of different reasons.”

Sarnia mayor Mike Bradley disagrees.

"I don't think you have to be Sherlock Holmes to put those clues together, because it had become a much higher media issue, and it was starting to build this critical mass of opposition," said Bradley. "Even yesterday morning, they were still defending the shipments and so something happened during the day that they realized this was a no-win situation for them."

Clean Harbors originally chose its Corruna facility to process the waste because it was its closest facility to the New York dump. It will now be processed in the U.S. at location farther from the dump.

"People that produced waste should be dealing with it in their own region, and not shipping it across North America," said Bradley.

Clean Harbors has a contract to incinerate part of the waste and bury the rest.

"They are destroyed at 1,300 degrees. Then we test the inert soil to make sure it meets all of our disposal requirements," Parker said. "There are always contaminants with emissions released into the atmosphere with any industry."

Parker said the company uses the same treatment process at one of its U.S. facilities.


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