Nanticoke station top polluter: Report

OTTAWA, CANADA - Canada's biggest single source of greenhouse gases is Ontario Power Generation's Nanticoke coal-fired station, says a recent report.

Nanticoke's status as the country's No. 1 polluter is just one fact among a raft of new pollution data proving Canada needs tough, mandatory standards, say environment groups that compiled the numbers.

The report shows that in 2005, large industries across the country emitted more than 4 billion kilograms of pollutants that cause cancer, respiratory ailments, smog and acid rain. Most went up smokestacks into the air.

They also produced 279 million tonnes of greenhouse gases – identified by many international studies as the source of climate change.

Emissions of a few substances were lower than in previous years, but most were up. For some – particularly pollutants that produce smog and acid rain, or lead to lung ailments – the increase is substantial, the report says.

Canada's current pollution rules are so weak they might as well not exist, said Joseph Castrilli of the Canadian Environmental Law Association, one of two groups that compiled the report through their joint PollutionWatch website.

Regulations under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act set air quality standards for the entire country, but don't trigger any action, Castrilli said in an interview.

"It's as if people say, `The standards would be a nice thing to achieve if it were possible.' "

The targets are weak and voluntary, said Aaron Freeman of Environmental Defence, the other partner in PollutionWatch.

The report is based on emissions calculations submitted by large industries and electrical utilities to Environment Canada's National Pollutant Release Inventory and its Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reporting Program.

For greenhouse gases, it includes the 332 sources that emit more than 100,000 tonnes a year: Those few accounted for more than 35 per cent of Canada's total.

For toxic and smog pollutants, about 8,600 emitters reported to NPRI.

Among the provinces, Alberta and Ontario once again ranked first and second as worst polluters.

While Nanticoke, on Lake Erie, was the top polluter, Alberta tar sands operations and coal-fired generating stations took seven of the 10 spots among the biggest sources.

Inco's nickel smelter, near Sudbury, was one of the top sources of toxic emissions, at 197 million kilograms.

The federal rules are under review by two parliamentary committees, including one overhauling the Conservative government's Clean Air Act, unveiled last fall to widespread criticism.


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