INEOS Styrolution. April 29, 2024. (Photo by Natalia Vega)INEOS Styrolution. April 29, 2024. (Photo by Natalia Vega)

INEOS appealing Ontario sanctions

INEOS Styrolution is appealing sanctions placed on its facility after elevated benzene levels were recorded near the Tashmoo Avenue site in April.

In an email to Sarnia News Today, Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) spokesperson Gary Wheeler said two appeals were filed last week.

"On May 15, 2024, INEOS Styrolution filed an appeal of the ministry’s May 1, 2024 Director’s Order to the Ontario Land Tribunal," said Wheeler. "On the same date, INEOS also appealed the amendment to their Environmental Compliance Approval (ECA) and Notice of Suspension of the ECA."

The action forced the company to suspend its production operations, which MECP said would ensure the facility fully addressed the causes and sources of emissions.

"INEOS is still required to comply with the requirements set out in both the Director’s Order and the ECA amendment and suspension unless the decisions under appeal are stayed by the tribunal," Wheeler added.

A notice issued by Aamjiwnaang First Nation on April 16, suggesting all staff leave their buildings and work from home for the rest of the day due to "extremely high levels" of benzene in the Band Office area, triggered the actions.

The First Nation declared a state of emergency and issued its own Notice of Violation against INEOS Styrolution and the MECP, seeking immediate remediation of benzene emissions afterwards.

INEOS has denied exceeding prescribed benzene emission limits and announced it was considering appealing recent orders in early May.

The federal minister of Environment and Climate Change announced strict benzene pollution controls in the pursuit of environmental justice for Aamjiwnaang First Nation last week.

Petrochemical production facilities in Sarnia with fence line concentrations of benzene above 29 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m3) will require vapour-control measures, including fully closed vent systems with vapour control on certain storage tanks that store benzene.

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