Last year, TEA took action during the City budget when Toronto Water attempted to remove some of the water pollution penalties that keep industrial sized companies in check through the Sewers By-law.
We won that fight and in the process made sure that the department remained committed to releasing an annual public report identifying industrial polluters and Toronto Water's ongoing efforts to reduce toxic releases that can end up in Lake Ontario.
This outstanding report was released today (April 18th, 2012) at the Public Works and Infrastructure meeting. In this report TEA learned that a number of industries were caught violating the by-law because they dumped toxic substances into the sewer system.
These five businesses were convicted and fined for releasing toxic substances into the sewer system that are known to cause impacts to our health and the environment. Like other businesses that were fined, we hope to see pollution prevention efforts from these businesses in the near future. See the full report for the full list of convictions.
A few other companies failed to submit their mandatory Pollution Prevention Plan, which outlines how they will go about reducing or eliminating the use of substances that pollute our water. It's important to note that certain sectors have much lower compliance rates for submitting Best Management Practices (BMPs) or Pollution Prevention plans such as autobody refinishing, automotive services, and printing.
Councillors praised Toronto Water's efforts, especially for catching industrial polluters that violated the law, and who are now taking steps to add pollution controls to stop it from happening again.
Councillors also expressed a number of concerns particularly around poor by-law compliance and the need to explore policy options that can give Toronto Water authority to force companies to install pollution prevention controls rather than just develop plans.
The committee passed a motion that requires Toronto Water to report back on these issues and more in October 2012.