Magellan Aerospace Corp.’s Haley Industries division at Haley Station, west of Renfrew, has been named one of the three worst water polluters on Ontario by the Sierra Legal Defence Fund.
The Renfrew County company, which is one of Canada’s largest aircraft component manufacturers, was included in a list of “Ontario’s Dirty Dozen Polluters” released yesterday.
Elaine MacDonald, the scientist who wrote the report, said Haley Industries gained the pollution notoriety by violating Ontario environmental regulations for more than a decade.
The lobby group has produced annual environmental violation reports since the Ontario government stopped providing a detailed printed report on violators in 1999.
The Sierra report is based on a 2001 list of environmental violations.
Haley Industries had 82 water pollution violations in 2001, well below the top two polluters, Chinook Group Ltd., near Sarnia and Stephan Chemical near Orillia, which had 355 and 341 violations respectively.
In the air pollution category, Tembec Industries Inc.’s pulp and paper plant in Smooth Rock Falls, Ont., topped the list with 90. It was followed by Abitibi-Consolidated Inc.’s Kenora plant with 74 violations.
The majority of violations for both companies were related to sulphur limits.
The Sierra report said Haley Industries dumps a toxic effluent into MacLaren Creek containing elements like silver and phospherous, as well as phenolic compounds that affect its taste. The report said the effluent contained a high level of E. coli bacteria, lacked oxygen and had a high level of unspecified suspended solids.
A report in 2000 showed high levels of aluminum, copper, phosphorus and silver. The province ordered Haley Industries to replace its industrial sewage treatment plant in 2001.
The company was fined $8,000 in 2002 for exceeding Ontario air pollution standards it its hydrogen fluoride emissions. The compound can damage vegetation. The penalty is the only fine the company has paid for persistent water and air pollution violations dating back to at least 1993.
John Steele, a Ministry of Environment spokesman, said recent tests have shown the factory effluent is toxic to water fleas and small fish such as rainbow trout, but no one from the ministry knows why.
The ministry requires the company to test its effluent by pouring it into an aquarium containing fish and water fleas. The effluent is considered toxic if the fish and insects die. Ministry officials haven’t seen any dead fish in the creek that flows into the Ottawa River.
The company must explain to the ministry by the end of the month why its effluent is toxic to fish and what it is doing about it.
“Under air pollution, there was an unknown number of particulate violations,” Ms. MacDonald said. “The water lacks oxygen for fish because there is too much bacteriological activity.
“Haley Industries has been an ongoing issue for many years. Why can’t the Ministry of Environment get this company to comply with regulations? Maybe the fines have to cause more damage to a company’s bottom line before it pays attention.”
Ms. MacDonald said Haley Industries’ water pollution record ranged from 16 violations in 1996 to 211 violations in 1993.
Mr. Steele said the new sewage treatment plant Haley installed produced some improvements in water quality, but the company must do more.
“The effluent is toxic to fish, but I am not aware of any problems associated with drinking water,” he said. “Their sewage works dealt with the metals, but what remains an issue is the toxicity to fish.
“We don’t know why the effluent is toxic because it is difficult to test for everything. The company must tell us what the problem is and what they intend to do to fix it.”
Mr. Steele said most creeks support fish and the company could face fines of up to $6 million a day if it does nothing to improve water quality and fish are killed.
Haley Industries spokesman Jim Lemenchick said there are no fish in MacLaren Creek.
“We were named as one of the worst polluters in Ontario a couple of years ago by the Sierra Defence Fund,” Mr. Lemenchick said. “But we have spent more than $1.5 million on sewage treatment and landfill remediation during the last two or three years.
“The level of fluorides we use in our process is what is toxic to fish and goes into the air. We hope to meet all the Ministry of Environment requirements by the end of the month.”