Baie d’Urfé resident wants report on styrene plant safety

Baie d’Urfé resident wants report on styrene plant safety

By Rhonda Massad

Jean-Pierre Themens has asked the Baie d’Urfé to disclose the results of its independent engineering assessment of the StyroChem plant in the town’s industrial park, about 200 metres from his home.

StyroChem has been making expandable polystyrene (EPS) for food service, packaging, construction, casting and specialty applications in Baie d’Urfé since 1984. It has also operated in Fort Worth, Texas, for the past 38 years.

Themens began to pose questions after several residents on his street, including his wife, were diagnosed with cancer.

“What are the results of the chemical analysis done on the samples taken from the chimney of the StyroChem factory?” Themens asked Mayor Maria Tutino during the Baie d’Urfé’s July 8 town council meeting.

“Since scientists have proven that styrene is very carcinogenic to lab animals,” he observed.

According to Mayor Tutino, as soon as the results of the studies are in, they will be shared with the public.

“We take your comments very, very seriously,” she explained, “and we have acted on it. We will share the results with you very soon.”

Themens also expressed concern about a StyroChem request to double its styrene storage capacity. The town approved the request in principle, July 15, 2013, but left it until after last November’s municipal election for the next council to decide. The request is also subject to Canadian Pacific Railways and provincial government approval. 

“We have not received a request for increased storage under this mandate,” Mayor Tutino explained. “We are still considering whether it poses a risk to our citizens. If it does we will consider other actions.”

StyroChem president Glenn Wredenhagen told The Suburban in an interview that the company adheres to very strict guidelines outlined by all levels of government and takes a serious interest in safety.

Wredenhagen confirmed that the StyroChem plant has the capacity to house 96,000 gallons of styrene (in water-gallon equivalent) and up to eight railway tank cars on its Baie d’Urfé premises. 

“Federal, provincial and local governments regulate anything that goes into the air, ground and water,” he explained, “we [also] have to adhere to the stringent regulations of our insurance company, which requires us to continuously upgrade to best practices.”

Wredenhagen went on to say that the fire department is very attentive to community safety and that StyroChem meets with firefighters whenever they want.

“At the request of Baie d’Urfé, we allowed a third-party engineering firm in to evaluate the plant and we got excellent reviews on that,” he said. “We welcomed the city council to come for a visit, several have, and we are open to solving all issues.”

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StyroChem, a producer of expandable polystyrene, can house 96,000 gallons of styrene and eight railway tank cars on its Baie d’Urfé site.
(Photo © Rhonda Massad)

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