Clean Harbors to pay: “We don’t have to put up with it anymore” Stenton

Clean Harbors in St. Clair Township

Jim Stenton says an order by an Ontario Small Claims Court for Clean Harbors to pay damages after a summer of stink is not a victory but a community awakening.

The Brigden farmer sued the hazardous waste site at the corner of Petrolia Line and Telfer Road after being driven from his home by an overwhelming stench in the summer of 2011. Stenton, who had to leave his home after a number of incidents and at one time was taken to hospital because his blood pressure was high, sued for $25,000 saying the company had harmed his health and interfered with the enjoyment of his property.

Deputy Judge Helen Turner said she could find no evidence his health was harmed but said he did deserve compensation for being driven from his home.

She awarded Stenton $18,000 – $100 for every day the problem with the stinky leachate continued.

Stenton is pleased with the ruling saying it shows Clean Harbors needs to be respectful to its neighbours.

“I do hope that Clean Harbours learned that if they conduct their business in a respectable manner, they will have no problem with the community,” he says.

“The time has come that we don’t have to put up with it anymore.

“I know I’ll get heckled on the financial end of it but it’s not about finances; it’s about being responsible in the community,” he added noting Clean Harbors has done a good job in the last few months keeping odours to a minimum.

Stenton says he wouldn’t call this a victory but a realization of the community that they didn’t have to let a big business interfere with their lives with pollution.

And even though Clean Harbors offered to settle the suit before it went to court, Stenton is pleased he carried on.

“It took me and my community 40 years to get to this point and no amount of money would get me off that,” he says.

“I was trying to represent not only myself but members of my community; the young that cannot protect themselves and the elderly who cannot protect themselves including those in Brigden, Petrolia and Sarnia.

“I’m glad that it went this way; I’m glad we had our moment in court but I just hope we never ever have  to do this again,” added Stenton. “Clean Harbours has a right to do business here but we have a right to live here.”

– Heather Wright