Good Neighbour Campaigns

Chemtura – Scarborough

The Highland Creek area of Scarborough is home to a leafy residential area as well as a number of chemical and industrial companies including Chemtura. Odours and particulate matter emissions from these companies has been of concern to the community for years, but the issues came to a head in 2010 when a spill at Chemtura occured.

Despite a spills alert system in place, the neighbouring residents and schools weren’t notified of the toxic release until nearly an hour afterwards. A local resident is working to organize with other neighbours to get the answers the community deserves.

Read her personal statement:

After our family moved into the Scarborough Highland Creek area in 2002, we started smelling odd odours on a regular basis. Smells of paint, resin, plastic, tar and other chemicals travel throughout our community. Our area has schools, parks, churches, a library, ravine and local water trails, as well as several huge chemical and industrial companies operating behind our homes.

On November 3, 2010 our community was subjected to a toxic sulphuric acid mist release by Chemtura. The release occurred at about 11:05 am but the area Community Awareness and Emergency Response (CAER) Alarm wasn’t sounded until 12:00pm to warn our community to seek shelter, close all windows and doors and turn off heating systems. During that 55 minutes, my daughter walked home from school for lunch, community members were walking their dogs, preparing their grounds for winter and enjoying their properties in the sunshine without any idea about the chemical mist around them. The next day, my daughter experienced a sore throat and my voice was course and rough –  I sounded like I’d screamed from the top of my lungs for hours.

To this day, our community still has no knowledge of the chemical concentrations of Sulphuric Acid were were exposed to and why the CAER alarm was not sounded immediately during the release. My daughter started a petition and we obtained 176 signatures from the community to ask our area Councillor to call for a public meeting. We didn’t get a public meeting, so attended a CAER public meeting in 2011 to try to get answers. Our community continues to be subjected to chemical odours regularly.

I’m left with many questions -  What are we breathing? What are these odours and what are the health risks involved? Why are chemical companies not being held accountable to warn us immediately of spills and releases? Why are communities not being informed about the chemical concentrations of the releases they are being subjected to?

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