I Didn't Know

Ada Lockridge
Posted August 2, 2019 from Canada
The Missing Worker Memorial, Sarnia Ontario, Canada.
The Missing Worker Memorial. Looking through the body of a dead worker, to remaining family looking at the chemical factories.

I didn’t know that we had a say in the Plants. 

I didn’t know what was being released or how much, or the known health effects from it. 

I didn’t know to call the Ministry of Environment’s Action Hot Line to report any unusual smells or happenings and ask for a copy of the incident report. 

I didn’t know that when there is an evacuation, that I should check the wind direction and know what Plant it is, so I could take the safest route out of the wind’s way. 

I didn’t know that it wasn’t safe to swim or play in the St Clair River, the ponds here, or in the ditches. 

I didn’t know that it wasn’t safe to eat the fish or the deer or the rabbits here.

I didn’t know that I should keep my windows closed at night since the plants mostly burn from the stacks at night so as not to bother so many people, or something like that.

I didn’t know which Government is responsible for what. Still a bit iffy on that, too. Chief and Council, Sarnia Mayor, St Clair Township, Municipalities, Counties, Provincial, Federal, Health Canada, Environment Canada, Department of Oceans and Fisheries, Indian Affairs, Ministry of Environment, MP, MPP’s, Ministry of Natural Resources.

I didn’t know that the flares should only be burning when there is a problem. 

I didn’t know that workers get some kind of a slip when they have been exposed to chemicals. I didn’t know how hard it is to collect pensions for the widows of disabled workers.

I didn’t know that when there is a power outage, why we got our power back on so fast. Apparently we’re in more danger when the Plants don’t have power.

I didn’t know that the colours burning off the flares mean different substances are being burnt off.

I didn’t know that these beautiful colours in our sunrise and sunsets are due to pollution and chemicals. 

I didn’t know it is best to take water samples after the City’s routine flushings, and make sure they are testing for heavy metals.

I didn’t know that the water main on South Vidal Street is ours, but that the City maintains it. 2010, that pipe is over six years old and made out of cast iron.

I didn’t know that when Suncor was building their first flare stack, that they were digging up human remains. Still don’t know what they did with them.

I didn’t know that these chemicals are used to make plastics, tubes in hospitals, make-up, batteries, carpets, cooking pans, the non-stick kind, cleaning products.

I didn’t know the same companies make the medicine for cancers and other ailments.

I didn’t know there were noise and vibration laws for these Plants.

I didn’t know that some Plants have a Native hiring policy. 

I didn’t know the Plants have a Native Liaison Rep.

I didn’t know that the Plants self-report their releases.

I didn’t know they can do pollution credit sharing, or selling, so that they are allowed to release so much into the air.

I didn’t know we sold the lands that industry could come. So that people could come to the area and create jobs. But what was known about chemicals then?

I didn’t know that when the Government had Indian Agents here supposedly taking care of us, that we were not allowed to have legal representation. 

I didn’t know that there was a statistic that there should be 51% girls to 49% boys ratio worldwide. I didn’t know anything about cumulative effects. Couldn’t even say it until November 1, 2010.

I didn’t know that these chemicals can be passed on through genes. 

I didn’t know that existing monitors aren’t set up to be collecting all the samples that could be out there.

I didn’t know that when there is a release, that you need to know what it is first, so they know what sort of reading instrument to use.

I didn’t know that the workers are scared to report things, fearing loss of job.

I didn’t know that the workers have reported maintenance problems, and they don’t get fixed until they blow. 

I didn’t know that routine maintenance checks on holding tanks are only every 10 years. 

I didn’t know that the riveted holding tanks are out of date. 

I didn’t know that the Industries are still using some machinery from when they first came. 

I didn’t know that there is a new law about pipelines being too close to homes. 

I didn’t know when the Plants get fined, that that money goes into the Municipalities.

I didn’t know that the Plants have to give out 1% of the profits to the surrounding communities.

I didn’t know that people in a one mile radius of Ocean Harbour receive a yearly fee.

I didn’t know there was such a thing as long term health base standards.

I didn’t know there’s no standards here for some of these known carcinogens.

I didn’t know that Lanxess supplies the rubber that is in gum. I thought rubber came from rubber trees. 

I didn’t know that the Sarnia police don’t have the money in their budget to buy the proper gear for when the roads are blocked due to chemical releases.

I didn’t know that when Industry wants to change any of their operations or add to it, they have to post it on the EBR’s site (Environmental Bill of Rights), and anyone has 30 days to comment on it. 

I didn’t know that the Government works on the 4 D’s: Deny, Divide, Delay, Discredit. Oh, and maybe throw in a study. 

I didn’t know that medical doctors are not trained on how these chemicals react to the human body. 

I didn’t know that we probably need an oncologist, epidemiologist, toxicologist, meteorologist, papologist, wildlife-oologist, biologist, mapping specialist, ecologist, anthropologist and historians to figure this all out.


Comments 7

Log in or register to post comments
Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Aug 02, 2019
Aug 02, 2019

Hello, Ada,

Nice to meet you! This is a beautiful piece. albeit heartbreaking. Great writing style you got there.

I didn’t know a lot of things you enumerated here. Thanks for raising awareness and for speaking out on these issues concerning the Plant and its effects.

Welcome to World Pulse! Please continue to share your stories here. Looking forward ti reading them!

Jill Langhus
Aug 03, 2019
Aug 03, 2019

Hi Ada,

Welcome to World Pulse! Wow! This is quite the eye-opener. I'm glad, too, that you're spreading awareness around all these issues, too. Do you live near these plants then, and how close do you live near them? Do you work in one of them? What's being done to curtail all these harmful effects? It really is staggering and scary:-(

You may want to consider submitting this for one of the story awards to create even more awareness around these issues? On the "Voices Rising," "Raise Your Voice" subsection there are several different topics you can choose from. You could use, "Why I Resist" for example: https://www.worldpulse.com/raise-your-voice/why-i-resist.

I hope you are working to change some of the harmful effects of these plants. Please keep us posted. I'm looking forward to seeing more posts from you.

Tamarack Verrall
Aug 04, 2019
Aug 04, 2019

Hi Ada,
This is such important information, and so powerfully put into this poem. The work you have been doing to raise the consciousness of people in Canada on what dirty business is allowed by our Government, and the effects on people, has been put together by your keen eye and strong voice. I hope that now that your story is global here, others will be able to connect with you and share what is happening in other communities. It was an honour to meet you and learn all that you have been doing. A big welcome to World Pulse!

Beth Lacey
Aug 07, 2019
Aug 07, 2019

Welcome to World Pulse!

Aug 14, 2019
Aug 14, 2019

Thank you for sharing, I learnt a lot.

Kika Katchunga
Aug 14, 2019
Aug 14, 2019

Thank you for sharing with us ,Welcome to World pulse

leila Kigha
Dec 16, 2019
Dec 16, 2019

Thank you for sharing. Now I know a great number of things thanks to your article.
There is so much going on in our world and very little attention given to the consequences.
Keep raising your voice and looking forward to reading some more.

Related Stories

Nicole reid