Today we continued cross-examinations in an important case to protect Ron Plain, Ada Lockridge, and their families, from industrial air pollution.

Ron and Ada live in Sarnia, Ontario. Sarnia is home to Chemical Valley, an industrial area where petrochemical companies emit thousands of tons of harmful pollutants into the air each year. Some of these chemicals include cancer-causing benzene, particulate matter, sulphur dioxide, and other chemicals known to cause respiratory and cardiovascular health risks.

The cumulative effects of pollution on the health of nearby communities is unknown. Nonetheless, the Ontario government continues to approve pollution increases at Chemical Valley facilities without considering cumulative health risks.

In April 2010, the Ontario government permitted an increase in production at part of Suncor’s Chemical Valley refinery. Because of that decision, Ron and Ada launched a lawsuit to protect themselves. They believe that the government violated their human rights. That’s why we’re representing them.

In April and May 2014, lawyers for all parties began cross-examinations of the 19 witnesses in this case. Now we’re focused on the final five cross-examinations, which may wrap up this fall, and preparing for a hearing.

After three and a half years, Ron and Ada want their hearing as soon as possible. It’s easy to understand why. Neither their health concerns nor the pollution have ceased while the case crawls through the courts. While it’s hard to know when they’ll get their hearing, we’re hoping for next spring.

In the meantime, the scientific literature regarding health risks from petrochemical emissions in Chemical Valley and elsewhere continues to evolve (Discover what the World Health Organization said in March 2014). We continue to learn more and more about these serious risks to physical health, as well as psychological health and cultural impacts.

The challenge now is continuing to persevere in this resource-intensive litigation against the Ontario government and Suncor.

But here’s the thing: We can do it with you on our side.

It’s a tough battle, but your support allows us to defend Ron, Ada, and their families.

On behalf of Ron and Ada, and the entire Chemical Valley Charter Challenge team, thank you.

We’ll be in touch.

By Kaitlyn Mitchell and Margot Venton, staff lawyers