SooToday received the following open letter from faculty members at Algoma University to MP Terry Sheehan and MPP Ross Romano titled "Urgent Action: Revoke Pollution Regulation Exemptions for Algoma Steel Inc."
Dear Mr. Sheehan and Mr. Romano:
We, the undersigned full-time faculty members at Algoma University, write to urgently request your intervention regarding the hazardous high levels of specific carcinogenic emissions by Algoma Steel Inc. in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.
According to the recent report by the National Observer published March 15, 2023, the steel mill has been releasing excessive amounts of benzene and particulate matter, leading to serious health and environmental concerns for the residents of the surrounding communities.
The report states that the emissions of benzene, a known carcinogen, have exceeded the acceptable limits set by the provincial government. The levels of sulfur dioxide, which is harmful to the respiratory system and can cause asthma and other respiratory diseases, have also been found to be dangerously high.
In addition, the emissions of particulate matter, which can cause lung cancer and heart disease, have been consistently above the legal limit for several years.
These pollutants are not only harmful to the health of the people living in the vicinity of the steel mill but also to the ecosystem and the environment.
It is deeply concerning to see that despite the existence of regulations, the Algoma Steel mill has been allowed to operate in a manner that is harmful to the health and well-being of the people living in the local area.
This has been going on for far too long, and it is time for the government to take immediate action to enforce the regulations that are in place. It is crucial to acknowledge that health care resources in the Algoma District may not be as accessible as desired.
Vital equipment and services for early cancer detection and treatment are more readily available in larger urban centres, such as Sudbury or cities in southern Ontario. This inequality in health care resources, combined with emissions from the Algoma Steel mill and the pressing need for more stringent regulatory enforcement, presents a significant economic challenge for the city of Sault Ste. Marie.
Moreover, these factors contribute to growing concerns about the well-being and health of the local population. As a responsible government, it is your duty to protect the health and safety of the citizens of Ontario and Canada and to ensure that nature is preserved for future generations.
The chronically high emissions of carcinogens and harmful pollutants released by the Algoma Steel into the environment mill are unacceptable, and urgent action must be taken to address this issue.
We urge you to take the necessary steps to enforce regulations and hold Algoma Steel Inc. accountable for its actions.
The people of Ontario and of Canada have the right to breathe clean air and drink clean water (e.g., Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) (1999), the Clean Water Act (2006) in Ontario, Ontario Water Resources Act (OWRA), the Ontario Environmental Protection Act (EPA)), and it is your responsibility to ensure that this is the case.
Thank you for your prompt attention to this critical matter. We look forward to your response and the actions you will take to address this issue.
Dr. Arthur Perlini, Department of Psychology
Dr. Edward Turgeon, Department of Visual Art and Music
Dr. Anne Turgeon, Department of Visual Art and Music
Dr. Pedro M. Antunes, Department of Biology
Dr. Nicola Shaw, Department of Biology
Dr. David Brodbeck, Department of Psychology
Dr. Paulette Steeves, Department of Geography, Geology and Land Stewardship
Dr. Rose Ann Torres, School of Social Work
Dr. Dionisio Nyaga, School of Social Work
Dr. Isabel Molina, Department of Biology
Dr. Walter Wai Tak Chan, School of Social Work
Dr. Nusrate Aziz, Faculty of Business and Economics
Dr. Jody-Lynn Rebek, Faculty of Business and Economics
Dr. Aaron Gordon, Faculty of Business and Economics
Dr. Sean Meades, Department of Community Economic and Social Development
Dr. Andrea Pinheiro, Department of Visual Arts and Music
Dr. Nairne Cameron, Department of Geography, Geology, and Land Stewardship
Dr. Tony Robinson-Smith, Department of English & History
Dr. Ushnish Sengupta, Department of Community Economic and Social Development
Dr. Suleyman M. Demi, School of School Work
Dr. Nirosha Murugan, Department of Biology
Dr. Jennifer Foote, Department of Biology
Dr. Laura Wyper, Department of Community Economic and Social Development
Dr. Christine Madliger, Department of Biology
Dr. Teryn Bruni, Department of Psychology
Dr. Simon Xu, School of Computer Science and Technology
Dr. Andrew Judge, Anishinaabe Studies
Dr. Chunhua Zhang, Department of Biology
Dr. Bill Dew, Department of Biology
Dr. Trevor Tchir, Department of Law and Politics
Dr. Vivian Jiménez-Estrada, Department of Sociology-Anthropology
Dr. Dwayne Keough, Department of Psychology
Dr. Mahbubul Alam, Faculty of Business and Economics
Dr. Paul Dupuis, Department of Psychology
Dr. Linda Burnett, Department of English & History
Dr. Sheila Gruner, Department of Community Economic and Social Development (CESD)
Dr. Chantal Lemieux, Department of Psychology
Dr. Alice Ridout, Department of English and History