Just Around the River Bend is Chemical Valley!

by niancu on October 6, 2017 - 10:55pm

The purpose of the article I chose was to bring awareness to the negative contributions of pollution coming from the Canadian side of Lake St. Clair. Detroit, Michigan and Sarnia, Ontario are two cities that border Lake St. Clair and St. Clair river. This article looks at the Canadian side of the lake and the factories such as Shell Canada’s fuel dock that contribute to the pollution of the water and air. Sarnia is within the Canadian Chemical Valley, which is an area that produces 40% of petrochemicals for Canada. There have been a large number of chemical spills in St. Clair River that occurred between 1986 and 2000. Sarnia is documented as having the worse air quality in Canada according to a World Health Organization study. A Canadian NGO discovered that there was 5.7 million kg coming from factories near the river that are known to be dangerous to humans. The emissions from the Sarnia area are greater than emissions from Manitoba, New Brunswick, or Saskatchewan. Although the Sarnia-Lambton Environmental Association claims there have not been spills since 2005 there is evidence to suggest otherwise. The evidence given in the article of the pollution from the Canadian side are reports done by the Canadian Ecojustice and Canadian government officials. At this time the article only sites specific locations such as the Dow Saria Plant that are being considered for cleanup by the Canadian government as a solution to the problem.

The state can use different techniques to encourage or implement industry practices to reduce pollution. The article does mention that the government has done reports on the area, but it still seems that there have been no actions taken to decrease pollution. I think incentives and rewards could be used to encourage the factories to control their pollution, but the article pointed out the government hasn’t even agreed on a clean up effort. I think part of the issue for implementing clean up or exercising control of pollution is the presence of conflict.

 I think there is an issue of value conflict, where industries find environmental practices more expensive and prioritize that over environmental safety. I think there is also an issue of cognitive conflict since the article does mention that the Sarnia-Lambton Environmental Association reported that there were no spills since 2005, but the government officials had different evidence pointing to numerous spills since 2005. Although the article does not touch on this, I am curious as to the issues of interest conflict as I am not sure who would be responsible financially for implementing cleanups. This is also an issue considering the water and air in the area is impacted by both Canadian and United States borders.

A quick google search demonstrates inconsistent media reports of how the pollution is manifesting itself, whether the water quality is improving or not, and where the pollution is coming from. There is still quite a bit of coverage on the issue of pollution and I believe the residents of the area realize the cost of significant progress.

I believe that moving forward the best implementation tools to be used would be regulatory substantive policy instruments. This is because although it has an authoritarian attitude and may be inconsistently applied in large areas, there is evidence that the issues of pollution within Sarnia have not been addressed by the corporations and individuals of the area.

Keith, M. (2017). Across the river, Canada’s Chemical Valley adds to Lake St. Clair’s environmental issues. Detroit Free Press. http://www.freep.com/story/news/2017/09/30/across-river-canadas-chemical-valley-adds-lake-st-clairs-environmental-issues/604335001/



You picked an interesting topic to write about, and I really liked your explanation about what types of conflict are present and why you think regulations are the best option in the situation.
Did your belief that the residents know the cost progress would have come from your extra reading on the topic or the article? It wasn't entirely clear which it was, in context.