If it happens in Canada, will it stay in Canada?

As you enjoy a scenic drive along the St. Clair River, admiring the picture-perfect postcard scenery of the industrial plant in Canada with the white smoke billowing from its stacks, and quite often an impressive flame shooting skyward as noxious gasses are burnt off, do you ever wonder, “How safe is this?

Nov. 18 SC4 hosted a screening of “The Beloved Community,” with a panel discussion on the possible health risks and environmental impacts endured by the residents near Chemical Valley in Sarnia.

Sarnia's "Chemical Valley" Photo by Jenny Walker

Ada Lockridge from Aamjiwnaang First Nation, located about 16 miles from  the chemical plants, spoke about the travesties occurring on her reservation, such as adults and children with asthma, high blood pressure, severe to chronic  headaches, children with behavior and learning disabilities, children experiencing skin rashes, steadily declining male births (birth ratio is 2 to 1, girl to boy), increase in miscarriage or still birth, and premature death due to cancer or other related illnesses. This has been documented in a decade of studies done by Lockridge and some of her colleagues.

Also present at the meeting was retired director of Ontario Health Clinics for Ontario Workers Inc. of Sarnia, Dr. Jim Brophy. From clinical analysis, Dr. Brophy confirmed chemical workers have a high risk to develop cancer or die from chemicals emitted at these plants, such as asbestos, benzene, mercury and dioxins.

Photo by Jenny Walker

The main focus of this discussion was to raise awareness to local citizens that what happens in Canada won’t necessarily stay in Canada. Doug Martz wrote to Senator Debbie Stabenaw for help in placing a real-time monitor to detect chemicals in the water in the event of a spill.

Senator Stabenaw took ten years to raise 3.7 million to emplace the monitor. But due to budget cuts, no funds are available to operate it.

Acording to Lockridge, Canada has placed a real time air monitor, but once again, there are no funds.  With awareness, many locals are worried about the health risks and what actions should be taken. This is a problem no imaginary, map-drawn country border can stop.

Others present at the meeting were Margaret Keith, a former occupational health research coordinator of Ontario Health Clinic for Ontario Workers Inc; Dean Edwardson, Sarnia – Lambton Environmental Association; Kristen Jurs, St. Clair County Health Department; and Doug Martz, Macomb County Water Quality Board.

If you have a desire to learn more or to help in this matter, contact: www.sc4.edu/green, channelkeeper@wowway.com/michigan, www.ecojustice.ca .

Jenny Walker

Photo Editor

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