A toxic waterway prompts a public outcry in Southern Ontario

CTV News and Current Affairs  November 13/1999

** SANDIE RINALDO: One of Ontario’s top environmentalists is taking
on City Hall tonight in a battle over a poisoned waterway. Linda
Lukasik is accusing the city of Hamilton of turning a blind eye to
toxic chemicals seeping into Red Hill Creek. She claims test fish
exposed to the ooze died within minutes. CTV’s Peter Murphy

PETER MURPHY (Reporter): Salmon swim up Hamilton’s Red Hill Creek
to spawn as people marvel at this ritual of nature.

LINDA LUKASIK (Resident): It’s amazing that the water doesn’t
bring them down.

MURPHY: But they marvel not that the salmon return but that they
survive in such a polluted waterway. Here the creek’s banks used
to be part of an old waste dump site and today toxic chemicals
ooze out of the ground. This leaching, as it’s called, flows into
the creek, then into Hamilton Harbour and into Lake Ontario, the
source of drinking water for millions. This summer concerned
citizens had the leachings tested and they were shocked to findit
contained highly toxic levels of PCBs and ammonia. Enough ammonia
that it killed baby fish in minutes.

LUKASIK: One of the samples that we took, we found that the PCBs
were 42,000 times the Ontario provincial water quality objective.

MURPHY: So Linda Lukasik, who lives close to the creek, filed
private charges to get Hamilton to clean up the toxic mess.

ELIZABETH CHRISTIE (Sierra Legal Defence Fund): It’s a tragedy
that individual citizens in Ontario have to take environmental
laws into their own hands.

MURPHY: As a boy, Stan Lukish watched them dump tonnes of
chemicals here.

STAN LUKISH (Area Resident): I seen a lot of chemicals dumped
here. Like twelve drums in the morning, twelve in the afternoon.
And it was all buried here.

MURPHY: Hamilton alderman Dave Wilson claims the city didn’t know.

DAVE WILSON (Hamilton Alderman): We weren’t aware of the facts,
council wasn’t aware of the fact there were PCBs involved.

MURPHY: But provincial government tests on this site two years ago
found levels of PCBs so high the site qualifies as a toxic dump,
and still people play and work on it unaware of the danger. And
fish swim and spawn in the nearby creek. Peter Murphy, CTV News, Hamilton.