2.5 Chemical companies

A large number of chemical companies operate in all Canadian provinces, producing a wide array of products for industrial and consumer use. Some information on the contaminants chemical companies release into the environment (waste generator registrations, PCB storage orders, and so on) may be available from various governmental agencies.

What to look for on-site

Look for effluent pipes, smokestacks, leaks from storage tanks, and contaminated soils from historic spills.

Contaminants to test for

Pollutants released by chemical companies are varied, ranging from ammonia to zinc through different acids (check the pH), alcohols, benzene-derived compounds, heavy metals, and phenolic compounds. You may at first be tempted to have the samples analyzed for the products produced, but don’t limit the analysis to those; a wide range of byproducts and other substances may be present in these companies’ discharges. Depending on the type of chemicals processed at the site and its location, contamination may be well circumscribed (for example, due to leaky drums) or widespread.

More than one medium (air, surface water and groundwater, soil, and/or sediments) may be affected.

Acts and regulations that may apply

Fisheries Act

Clean Air Act

Ontario Water Resources Act

Ontario Environmental Protection Act (MISA Regulations, organic and inorganic chemical sectors, 63/95 and 64/95)

Canadian Environmental Protection Act

Environmental Bill of Rights