TEA launches "Secrecy is Toxic" Campaign

April 12, 2006

(Toronto) Today the Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA) launched its “Secrecy is Toxic Campaign” by disclosing a map of facilities approved to burn waste motor oil, a highly toxic substance, in Toronto.

The new campaign calls on the City to adopt a Community Right to Know (CRTK) bylaw that would publicly disclose such sources of toxic pollution. “Waste oil burning is but one example of government sanctioned pollution happening in our neighborhoods and under our noses,” stated Katrina Miller of the Toronto Environmental Alliance. “Too many polluters are allowed to hide their toxic secrets from the public.”

According to information retrieved from the province, 44 facilities have provincial Certificates of Approval to burn waste motor oil in heating furnaces. Largely made up of car dealerships, service stations and transport companies, these facilities are permitted to burn waste motor oil collected on site instead of sending it for re-refinement.

The map presented by TEA shows that elementary schools and daycares exist right next to burners, exposing children to toxic substances such as lead, cadmium and arsenic that are released into the local air.

The issue has renewed concern with two new permits being issued after a 6 year moratorium, and in the face of a City bylaw prohibiting the activity. More permit approvals are expected.

“The City and its residents must call on the province to end waste oil burning in Toronto,” said Miller, “this is a recyclable product that should be re-refined into usable motor oil, not sent up a smokestack and into our lungs.”

TEA says used oil burning exemplifies the need for a CRTK Bylaw in Toronto. TEA estimates that over 40,000 Toronto facilities are allowed to use and release toxic substances without having to disclose their activities to the public.

“Now is the time for City Council to fulfill its 6 year promise to adopt a Community Right to Know bylaw and give the public rightful access to information about toxic chemical use and release in their neighborhoods,” said Miller.

TEA points to the success of CRTK laws in other jurisdictions in achieving significant voluntary pollution reductions as a result of public scrutiny.

The City of Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health will be reporting on options to expand CRTK in Toronto, including a bylaw, in May 2006.

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For more information, call Katrina Miller, Toronto Environmental Alliance (416) 596-0660.

Also Available:
CRTK Bylaw Media Backgrounder
Waste Oil Media Backgrounder