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MOE probes Biedermann plant permit

Eric McGuinness, The Hamilton Spectator, DUNDAS (Apr 17, 2009)


The Ontario Environment Ministry is reviewing an air emissions permit for the Biedermann pesticides packaging plant, where a huge fire in July 2007 flushed toxic chemicals into Spencer Creek, killing thousands of fish.

The review results from a request filed under the Environmental Bill of Rights by Environment Hamilton, which continues to press for greater regulation and scrutiny of the Head Street plant that packages insecticides, rat poison and fertilizers.

At issue is a certificate of approval for a dust collector on machinery that handles a variety of toxic chemicals. Environment Hamilton is asking specifically for stack tests to ensure nothing hazardous is being released into the air.

Calling the review "nothing unusual," Biedermann technical director Brian Peirce said: "We keep our equipment very well maintained. There's nothing we're hiding."

Biologist Joe Minor says Environment Hamilton's Biedermann working group will also ask the city to review zoning that allows only production of garden chemicals when, in reality, "it also processes tonnes of highly toxic agricultural pesticides clearly not intended for garden use."

The ministry says its investigations and enforcement branch continues to probe circumstances surrounding the fire. If it decides to lay charges, it must do so before the July 26 anniversary.

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