A transport truck leaves an industrial facility in southern Ontario carrying 250 tonnes of hazardous waste. When the truck arrives at the toxic waste facility, 250 kilometres away, it is weighed by site employees who discover that it is carrying less than 200 tonnes. Where did the waste go? No one really knows. It’s a fictitious question but one with a real-life parallel.
A 2007 report from Ontario’s Auditor General found more than26,000 shipments of hazardous waste where the quantity received was less than the quantity shipped. The Auditor found no explanation for where the missing waste went and why but speculated that illegal dumping may be occurring.
Now the Ontario government wants to streamline its environmental laws and make it easier for companies to haul hazardous waste. We learned that they want to exempt hazardous waste companies from needing a special permit before allowing them to haul toxic waste chemicals through our communities. The Auditor General said in 2007 that the applications reviewed by government were incomplete. Despite looking, the Auditor could not find basic things such as proof of specialized driver training.
Hauling hazardous requires improved regulation. Especially since the Auditor General has said hazardous waste is going missing between point A to B. Many toxic substances, if allowed to accumulate in our environment, can harm childhood development and cause other neurological or reproductive disorders. Ontarians cannot afford this risk.
We need clean air, water, food and land to live. Preventing toxic chemicals from building up in our homes, workplaces and neighbourhoods is a must. We need stronger oversight of hazardous waste, especially when it’s transported.
Ecojustice and the Canadian Environmental Law Association are speaking up. On April 5, Jonah Schein of the NDP cited our concerns when he asked Minister of the Environment James J. Bradley why government was reducing oversight given the risks to human health and the environment.