Is there a terrible cost to living in Canada’s Chemical Valley?

That’s the question at the heart of a Global TV-led investigation — two years in the making — that draws upon documents obtained by Ecojustice through Freedom of Information requests.

Chemical Valley is located in Sarnia, Ontario, where petrochemical and refining facilities emit millions of kilograms of toxic air pollutants every year. On bad days, the pollution makes breathing unpleasant — the air smells of rotten eggs and a concoction of chemicals that can induce dizziness and nausea. On the worst of these days, bad air quality can make going outdoors dangerous and residents are told to stay indoors with their windows closed.

A 2007 Ecojustice study showed that industrial facilities in Chemical Valley release more of these pollutants — substances linked with environmental contamination, cancer, and reproductive and developmental health effects — than industry in any other community in Ontario.

The community of Aamjiwnaang First Nation is surrounded by Chemical Valley. It is also home to my friends, Ada Lockridge and Ron Plain. Residents in their community report that they have suffered from a litany of health problems, including asthma, reproductive problems, skin rashes, chronic headaches, and rare cancers.

You’ll meet Ada and Ron in Canada’s Toxic Secret, and learn more about how they’ve taken legal action to defend their community’s health and right to a healthy environment in the face of extreme pollution.

The Ecojustice team continues to work with Aamjiwnaang community members to correct the injustices they’ve been forced to bear.

UPDATE: In light of the news story investigation, the provincial government announced it will fund a health study examining the effects of air pollution on the residents of Sarnia’s Chemical Valley.