Pollution Watch is the first internet service allowing Canadians to easily access important information about local polluters using 1999 data from the from the National Pollutant Release Inventory. By entering a postal code, visitors can find out who is polluting in their community, the type and quantity of pollution being released and potential health risks. The independent service, established by the Canadian Environmental Defence Fund, Canadian Environmental Law Association and the Canadian Institute for Environmental Law and Policy, merges information from approximately 300 databases to create instant rankings based on pollution loads and health hazards for almost 2000 polluting facilities reporting in Canada.

Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG) coal-fired power plant at Nanticoke has been revealed by the website as Canada’s largest emitter to the air of pollutants that Environment Canada requires to be reported. Nanticoke, situated on the shores of Lake Erie, is the largest coal-fired power plant in North America and has doubled its emissions in the last five years, releasing more than five million kilograms of pollutants into the air. The pollutants include toxic heavy metals, nerve toxins, acid gases and other chemicals, but smog-causing nitrogen oxides were not included in the survey.

The website shows that six of the top ten air polluters in Canada are located in Ontario, the second biggest air polluter in North America after the US state of Texas. Federal Environment Minister David has called on OPG, whose sole shareholder is the Government of Ontario, to convert all of its coal-plants to natural gas. The company’s other two coal-fired plants in Southern Ontario are also among the 15 largest air polluters in the country.

“We always knew that Nanticoke was the largest coal-fired power plant in North America, now we know it’s the biggest air polluter in Canada,” said chair of the NGO Ontario Clean Air Alliance (OCAA), Jack Gibbons. “There is a simple way to eliminate most of these problem pollutants and dramatically reduce the rest. Ontario Power should convert Nanticoke to cleaner-burning natural gas. Ontario Power should squarely face up to what it is doing to people and the environment in Ontario.

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie