New concerns about the old GM site in St. Catharines
New concerns are being raised over the former GM site in St. Catharines.
The group, Coalition for a Better St. Catharines, has released a letter with claims that the Ontario St. property has asbestos issues and must be dealt with quickly.
The letter quotes the Mayor of Sarnia, and former employees at the site who are warning about the dangers and presence of asbestos at the site.
You can read the letter below.
Asbestos Experts Urge Immediate Clean Up of Former GM Site
October 14, 2020
For Immediate Release
A group of concerned citizens with experience and expertise with the health hazards of
Asbestos, including Mayor Mike Bradley of Sarnia, have sent the Coalition for a Better St.
Catharines a letter warning of the risks posed by asbestos on the former GM Site. The group
says action needs to be taken immediately to prevent the kind of serious health issues
experienced in other cities.
“In Sarnia we have experienced firsthand the tragedy of asbestos” said Sarnia Mayor Mike
Bradley ‘hundreds of lives have been lost through exposure to this insidious material used in so
many industrial sites throughout Ontario. “
Also signing the letter were two union representatives who were involved with health and
safety problems from asbestos exposure at the former GM site. Demolition ceased in 2018
leaving piles of building debris throughout the site as well as half demolished buildings with
pipes wrapped in asbestos and asbestos materials likely still in the ceilings.
“For more than 40 years asbestos brake linings were manufactured at the GM site,’ says former
Union Health and Safety Officer, John Pula, ‘Asbestos dust was literally everywhere whether
from manufacturing or in the equipment, ceilings and pipe wrappings in the buildings. I’m sure
if you look for it, you’ll still find asbestos throughout the site.”
Asbestos is a carcinogen that is dangerous when inhaled or ingested. When disturbed, its fibres
become present in the air. The Government of Canada recognizes that breathing in asbestos
fibres can cause cancer and other diseases. The fibres settle in the lungs and cause diseases
like asbestosis and mesothelioma. It often takes decades after exposure for an asbestos-related
cancer to develop. The more asbestos and the longer the exposure the greater the risk of
Asbestos is also found in the soil at brownfield sites like the former GM Property. According to
the Environmental Abatement Council of Ontario, improper building demolition can lead to a
mixture of friable and non-friable products in the soil and can create a significant debris field.
As well, Asbestos Cement (AC) piping is extremely common on brownfield sites. Excavation of
asbestos cement piping by untrained personnel can lead to extensive contamination.
The danger from asbestos is not limited to exposure on the site. Citizens living near the site and
exposed to asbestos from a contaminated environment is not uncommon. To date neither the
Provincial Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks or the Ministry of Labour, Training
and Skills Development have expressed concern over the potential for asbestos exposure to the
residential community bordering the site. MOECP conducted air quality testing this summer but
has not confirmed that asbestos was included in its sampling protocol. Testing for asbestos in
the air, soil and in surface water is the only way to determine whether the GM Property
exposes citizens to health risks from asbestos.