It was dubbed one of Hamilton’s most polluted properties but 350 Wentworth street north is seeing a clean-up of 800 barrels of toxic waste that were hidden inside by a previous owner. The property has seen at least 12 other environmental clean-ups over the last 23 years but this one is expected to cost well over a million dollars.
The clean-up is expected to take another 2-3 weeks to complete. The current owner Sukhinder Sandhu is on the hook for the costs. When buying the property he believed there were 400 barrels of waste to take care of but when workers went to knock down a wall inside they found another 400 barrels of toxic chemicals, doubling his expenses.
“Some of the materials inside are certainly extremely dangerous in terms of flammability. We do something wrong we could have an explosion.”
Mitchell Gibbs is directing the operation and says they found cancer causing substances like coal tar, creosote and roof tar in the barrels that may have intentionally been hidden away behind concrete block walls. After the barrels of waste are shipped out the clean-up will continue. They will be testing the ground on the property for toxins as well.
Sukhinder Sandhu is the current owner and paid $266 000 for it. The city put the property up for sale because of unpaid taxes of more than $265 000 but Sandhu thinks the city should help pay for the the waste disposal. According to the city they already helped the previous owners giving them $470 000 in penalty and interest relief as long as they used that money for clean-up and it turns out Sandhu has already been an owner of this property.
“Mr. Sandhu was one of the owners, a mortgage holder and now the owner again so the city has contributed what it could.”
According to the Ontario Environmental Protection act, if a previous owner contaminated a property they could be held responsible. However, if the polluter can not be found or can’t pay the current owner is responsible.
The original owner is the only one that worked with tar products here at the site. John Currie, the owner of “Currie Tar Products” died at the age of 97 back in 2013 but had a lengthy record of inappropriate disposal of toxic waste.