Local politician against Michigan legislation that allows hazardous waste across Ambassador Bridge

·2 min read

A local politician is raising alarm bells after Michigan officials voted to allow trucks carrying hazardous material to cross the Ambassador Bridge — an activity that goes against safety restrictions in place since the bridge opened.

Republican senators in Michigan passed changes to the state's COVID-19 Supplemental Appropriation legislature earlier this month that included allowing highly flammable and corrosive material to flow across the bridge.

This is something that environmental groups and some politicians on both sides of the border have long opposed.

"It's not only just about the hazardous materials, the trucks and the toxicity going on the bridge and the vulnerability with the aged infrastructure that can't cope with spills, fires, or turnovers, it's also in our neighbourhoods, we're re-introducing more trucks to city streets or we're re-introducing more dangers to ordinary citizens," NDP MP Brian Masse told CBC News.

Masse said that rules have been in place since 1929 to stop this sort of activity from happening.

In response to a letter Masse sent to the Minister of Transportation Marc Garneau, the government said it will make it a priority to look into what consequences the change on the American side of the border could have on Windsor's transportation system.

Sanjay Maru/CBC
Sanjay Maru/CBC

Currently trucks with hazardous goods are shipped across on ferries, which meets proper standards, Masse said.

The Ambassador Bridge Company has made repeated attempts over the years to allow hazardous materials to cross the bridge, but Masse is calling on the government to make sure that doesn't happen.

The Ambassador Bridge Company did not respond to a request for comment.

"Unfortunately there is a gap in some of our laws with regards to the movement of dangerous materials and hazardous goods. Federally, there are some laws on the international bridge and tunnel act — I've asked for that to be reviewed," Masse said.

Michigan State Senator of district 1, Stephanie Chang, who represents areas near the bridge, is mounting a similar effort on the American side.

She told CBC News that those who brought the bill forward relied on an old and incomplete report that is likely not legal.

"Our first priority now is really to work with the governor's office to ensure that this language [in Michigan's COVID Supplemental Appropriation] does not get enforced," Chang said. "And then one of the things that is very disappointing, unfortunately not that surprising, is that the proponents of this language appear to not have actually consulted with the Canadians on this at all."

In an emailed comment Thursday, the Ministry of Transportation said minister Caroline Mulroney "had a productive conversation with the Mayor of Windsor" and that they "expect the federal government to take a leadership role on this issue."