Province fails to police polluters - Toronto needs to pass pollution disclosure bylaw

April 25, 2007

Yesterday’s release of the Environmental Commissioner’s Report “Doing Less for Less” reveals shocking details of the failure of the Ministry of the Environment to control companies from releasing pollutants into Toronto’s air, land and water. The report found that 90% of authorized polluters are not following the rules and that 40% of polluters don’t even have a permit to pollute.

These findings make an airtight case for the City of Toronto to act independently by bringing polluters in line with a Community Right to Know bylaw. The bylaw would require all companies to disclose their use, storage and release of local pollutants.

Excerpts from “Doing Less for Less” report:

“Inspection sweeps by MOE’s Sector Compliance Branch over the past few years have found extremely high levels of non-compliance – in the range of 90 to 100 per cent for most sectors. In addition, MOE estimates that about 40 per cent of all facilities in the province are operating without the necessary environmental approvals... It is reasonable to assume that some of these facilities would fall into the high-risk category of facilities that would need to apply for Cs of A (Certificates of Approval) from MOE. “ (pg. 25 –26, 42)

“In addition, MOE has issued well over 220,000 Cs of A since 1971. Some of the oldest Cs of A contain no conditions at all... Changes in environmental requirements included in new ministry policies, guidelines and standards do not apply to pre-existing Cs of A. Since most Cs of A have no expiry date... a large number of facilities are operating with Cs of A that contain conditions that are both outdated and inconsistent with similar, but newer operations.”

By allowing facilities to operate under outdated Cs of A, MOE is not only permitting proponents to legally pollute beyond what is currently considered good practice, but it is also failing to provide proponents with any incentive to reduce discharges or implement better equipment and technologies.” (pg. 39)

“MOE inspectors typically do not inspect a facility’s compliance with the conditions of its environmental assessment (EA) approval... A recent internal audit by MOE found that only about 50 per cent of the proponents audited were in full compliance with conditions of their EA approval.” (pg. 24-25)

TEA believes it is time for City Council to fulfill its 7 year promise to adopt a Community Right to Know bylaw. The public deserves to know about pollution happening in their neighborhoods and we’re confident that such public scrutiny will convince many polluters to change their ways.

Full report:

For more information about Community Right to Know contact: Katrina Miller, Toronto Environmental Alliance 416-917-7824 Lina Cino, Toronto Environmental Alliance 416-596-0660