Ontario creates rules to contain benzene emission from one company, says report

'Benzene levels remain elevated and a long-term strategy is needed'

Ontario creates rules to contain benzene emission from one company, says report

The Ontario government has upped its efforts to limit benzene emission from a plastics plant in the province, with the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks creating new rules to address the issue.

Under the new rules, INEOS must meet limits on benzene concentrations, notify the ministry and Aamjiwnaang First Nation if the facility exceeds those limits at any time, identify and report on the causes of those instances, reported The Canadian Press (CP).

The employer must also install enhanced monitoring systems and share real-time monitoring data on a publicly accessible website.

Ontario is also bringing the employer under environmental penalties rules, allowing for the government to levy penalties of up to $100,000 per day for very serious contraventions.

"The (ministry) has been working with INEOS for some time to reduce its benzene emissions," the government wrote in an environmental registry posting about its new regulation, noted CP.

"Despite four orders requiring the company to take steps to improve their operations, benzene levels remain elevated and a long-term strategy is needed."

Aamjiwnaang First Nation had previously said citizens are getting sick and that there were high emissions of the cancer-causing substance from Ineos Styrolution.

The latest development comes after, last month, the ministry suspended INEOS’s environment compliance approval (ECA) for violations of benzene emissions

"This action will ensure the facility, currently shut down for maintenance, fully addresses the causes and sources of emissions," Gary Wheeler, spokesperson of the ministry, wrote in a statement, according to both CBC and CP.

The employer issued a statement over the weekend warning that it would need more time to comply with new rules the federal government recently implemented that were aimed at the company, according to the CP report.

In mid-May, Environment Canada set out new air quality standards in the Sarnia area. The move targeted Ineos Styrolution, according to the report.

The province has issued four orders to Ineos Styrolution since 2019.