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Feds order benzene leak fixes after plastics plant pollution in Sarnia, Ont.

A petrochemical plant is seen in Sarnia, Ont., Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young A petrochemical plant is seen in Sarnia, Ont., Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
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OTTAWA -

Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault is ordering all petrochemical companies operating in Sarnia, Ont., to take steps to control leaks of the cancer-causing chemical benzene.

The order comes a month after elevated levels of benzene pollution were recorded around the Ineos Styrolution plant in Sarnia, which makes styrene out of benzene.

On April 16 the community recorded levels that were 22 times higher than what the Ontario government deems to be safe, and there were multiple illnesses including headaches, nausea and dizziness.

In a statement April 30, the company said its monitoring did not detect any pollution over its allowed limits.

The temporary order signed by Guilbeault requires any facility that has recorded excess levels of benzene between March 1, 2023, and Feb. 29, 2024, to put in place vapour control measures on benzene storage tanks.

Ontario has suspended Ineos Styrolution's operating approval until major fixes are made including removing all benzene storage from the site and repairing leaky equipment.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 17, 2024.

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