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  #1  
Old Posted Dec 31, 2009, 5:01 AM
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Exclamation The Chemical Valley (USA & Canada)

The Chemical Valley
St. Clair River near Sarnia, Ontario and Port Huron, Michigan


This is a tour of the heavily industrialized region along the St. Clair River in Ontario and Michigan. The area south of Sarnia, Ontario is known as the Chemical Valley and forms the centre of Canada's petrochemical industry. The Chemical Valley is an integral part of the Canadian economy, supplying chemicals and raw materials for the automotive, agricultural, pharmaceutical and other industries. The petrochemical industry began in the 1850s when oil wells were commercialized nearby. Combined with local salt deposits and strategic access to other raw materials via the St. Lawrence Seaway, the chemical industry intensified quickly in the mid 20th century. Today oil is piped in directly from Alberta. Further downstream, Great Lakes freighters supply coal to several large power plants on the American side near St. Clair and Marysville, Michigan, and one on the Canadian side just south of Courtright, Ontario. The smokestacks can be seen for miles and miles and the alien landscapes of the many chemical plants make for some impressive imagery.
































































































































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Last edited by flar; Dec 31, 2009 at 2:42 PM.
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  #2  
Old Posted Dec 31, 2009, 5:20 AM
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The Chemical Valley used to be featured on the back of the Canadian ten dollar bill:



source: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...m=330361182225
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  #3  
Old Posted Dec 31, 2009, 5:24 AM
miketoronto miketoronto is offline
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Very cool.

Sarnia however is not a place one would want to live in, due to this Chemica Valley.

There have been documentaries about this area, and all the health effects these plants have on the community.

The community has one of the highest cancer and lung illness rates in Canada.
There is an indian reservation that borders right onto the chemical factories, and they found that chemical emissions have changed the DNA in that reservation. So much so that almost all kids born there are girls, because the males sperm in the area has been altered by the emissions.

Great for the economy, but that Chemical Valley is one big environmental mess in waiting.
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  #4  
Old Posted Dec 31, 2009, 5:29 AM
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Looks as brutal as the Tar Sands!

Really stunning, the first image really draws one in...isn't this the place that has high asthma rates and low birth of male problems?
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  #5  
Old Posted Dec 31, 2009, 5:33 AM
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  #6  
Old Posted Dec 31, 2009, 5:37 AM
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Great pictures! I didn't realize that this area existed, although oil and gas is vital for numerous industries, so refineries and the like are needed all around both countries and around the world.

There are a ton of refineries around here as well, which is kind of rare, but not really (I think there are refineries on the bays and shores in North Jersey and near New York City, but the Chesapeake Bay is not as marred as our Delaware River). I know you saw my Marcus Hook thread, of the refinery town in the corner of Pennsylvania. Delaware City, in my state, has a refinery that is pretty much the "skyline" for the town, and you can see it from much of New Castle County. There are a couple refineries in New Jersey, like in Paulsboro and a couple other places, and DuPont has a chemical facility in Carney's Point/Pennsville in New Jersey (with a pretty cool historic industrial building almost literally next to the northbound descent from the Delaware Memorial Bridge). You would probably like this area as well.
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Old Posted Dec 31, 2009, 6:05 AM
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I grew up drinking water drawn downstream of this, and eating fish taken from the river. My grandparents have lived along the river for decades and my grandfather worked at Ethyl for many years. My parents live along the river now, and my stepfather works at Lambton Generating Station. I know many people who work in these plants and I even worked briefly at a natural gas storage facility not far from here.

The environmental effects are undeniable, anyone who has visited Sarnia will have experienced the distinctive odours that emanate from the dozens of chemical plants. Things are much better today than they were in the past. Many of these plants were built in the 50s and 60s when there was much less environmental oversight. A fertilizer plant once caused massive algae blooms downstream, chemical spills were frequent, and I remember warnings not to drink the water when I was young. There have been some mass evacuations due to accidents and in the 1980s a huge chemical blob was found in the river after decades of industrial discharges.

With aging facilities, high oil prices and stricter environmental standards, industry in the Chemical Valley has changed a lot in recent years. Plans for a massive new oil refinery were cancelled, Dow Chemical has ceased operations in Sarnia and I noticed the old Polysar/Bayer rubber plant has been demolished in the past year. The coal-fired Lambton Generating Station will be shutting down in the next couple years. I'm pretty sure that the huge brick power plant in Marysville, MI is mothballed. On the other hand, a new natural gas power generating plant just opened. A lot of these plants will continue operating because they produce the chemicals used in thousands of everyday products.
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  #8  
Old Posted Dec 31, 2009, 6:28 AM
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Aptly titled: Winnipeg photo Thread
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  #9  
Old Posted Dec 31, 2009, 9:53 AM
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Very interesting tour. Interestingly enough, I'd never heard of the term "Chemical Valley", and I don't think it's what we call it on this side of the river. The only name that region gets, down here, is Blue Water Area because of how clear the St. Clair is and Lake Huron.

BTW, I'm pretty sure the big, brick power plant you're talking about in Marysville is the old St. Clair Power Plant in East China, and it's nowhere close to be shutting down. In fact, it was added to last in 2005 and is one of DTE's largest, most productive power plants. The newer Belle River Power Plant next door is a hybrid and burns natural gas and coal, St. Clair Power Plant burns oil and coal, Lambton Generating Station burns just coal.
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  #10  
Old Posted Dec 31, 2009, 1:56 PM
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MMMmmm chemicals.... Pumping out millions of gallons of delicious LSD.
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  #11  
Old Posted Dec 31, 2009, 2:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LMich View Post
Very interesting tour. Interestingly enough, I'd never heard of the term "Chemical Valley", and I don't think it's what we call it on this side of the river. The only name that region gets, down here, is Blue Water Area because of how clear the St. Clair is and Lake Huron.

BTW, I'm pretty sure the big, brick power plant you're talking about in Marysville is the old St. Clair Power Plant in East China, and it's nowhere close to be shutting down. In fact, it was added to last in 2005 and is one of DTE's largest, most productive power plants. The newer Belle River Power Plant next door is a hybrid and burns natural gas and coal, St. Clair Power Plant burns oil and coal, Lambton Generating Station burns just coal.
The Canadian side is the Chemical Valley, and much more heavily industrialized. The American side is industrial too, but more manufacturing and power plants. The Canadian area is also called the Bluewater region.

There are three power plants on the American side:

The Marysville plant, between Marysville and Port Huron:


The Belle River plant in East China township (built in the 1980s):


The St. Clair Plant:


The last two plants are located between Marine City and St. Clair, Michigan. I never see smoke coming from the Marysville plant, but the other two are always working.

This is Lambton Generating Station on the Canadian side, just north of the American plants:
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Last edited by flar; Dec 31, 2009 at 2:34 PM.
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  #12  
Old Posted Dec 31, 2009, 2:39 PM
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Great tour!, thanks!
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  #13  
Old Posted Dec 31, 2009, 2:57 PM
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I would not drink water downstream from that either. They were saying Windsor has a large amount of illness from pollution and water that flows downstream from Sarnia, and also from Zug Island and related industry in Detroit.
One lady said never to drink tap water in the Sarnia, Windsor area.
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Old Posted Dec 31, 2009, 3:04 PM
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Thanks for the tour!
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  #15  
Old Posted Dec 31, 2009, 3:15 PM
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Fascinating tour! Thank you. Everyone is a critic, but all are consumers. NIMBY. Those factories are jobs, supporting families that provide products for everyone, even the critics. I am not a supporter of pollution, however if jobs are to be kept in North America, there are some sacrifices. This area is as heavily controlled as any in the world. If only we could all work in wilderness preserves, all would be well.
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Old Posted Dec 31, 2009, 3:29 PM
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I didn't have time to photograph everything in the area, there is a large paper mill in Port Huron and some big grain elevators in Sarnia. Another new addition in Sarnia is a very large solar power farm.

There is a salt refinery along the river in St. Clair, Michigan. I think part of it is also a small power plant:
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Old Posted Dec 31, 2009, 3:59 PM
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Some have their own interesting qualities about them, but I would hate to live downwind of them. Outstanding photography, thanks for sharing.
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Old Posted Dec 31, 2009, 4:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tulip city madman View Post
Everyone is a critic, but all are consumers. NIMBY. Those factories are jobs, supporting families that provide products for everyone, even the critics. I am not a supporter of pollution, however if jobs are to be kept in North America, there are some sacrifices. This area is as heavily controlled as any in the world. If only we could all work in wilderness preserves, all would be well.
It's not about working in "wilderness preserves". It is about doing things (providing jobs, supporting families, providing products for everyone, critics included, blah blah blah) in a more efficient, less-polluting manner. Many of these types of facilities employ half-century-old processes and are highly reluctant to invest in new, cleaner technologies that do not result in serious, long-term environmental health consequences for the surrounding areas, and that ultimately result in healthier bottom lines... owing to decreases in inefficiency. The attitude that there is some tradeoff between jobs and cancer-causing pollution is such an archaic way of looking at things (a primary reason American/Canadian industry is in its current bleeding state). Losing our drive for leading innovation is troubling to me, and that type of attitude reeks of laziness. Growing up in one of the most heavily-industrialized regions on Earth, I'm a huge supporter of industry and energy generation... there are just ways to do it better all around.

Anyway, awesome photos, flar. They are beautiful.
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  #19  
Old Posted Dec 31, 2009, 4:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flar View Post
I didn't have time to photograph everything in the area, there is a large paper mill in Port Huron and some big grain elevators in Sarnia. Another new addition in Sarnia is a very large solar power farm.

There is a salt refinery along the river in St. Clair, Michigan. I think part of it is also a small power plant:
Flar... great photo tour! I grew up in this area (American side).

The image above is of the Diamond Crystal Salt plant in St. Clair, Michigan. This is the back side facing the river. Obscured behind the steam cloud on the right is the main building--a six story structure. Opposite the plant on the other side of M-29/Riverside Avenue (St. Clair's "Main Street") was the company's corporate headquarters building for many decades. Diamond Crystal was founded in St. Clair in the 1880s and has been the city's largest employer pretty much ever since then. Diamond Crystal is now a subsidiary of the Cargill corporation. Here's a link to the company's history from their website.

Located throughout the St. Clair area, Diamond Crystal has a number of wells where they pump hot water down into the salt deposits. They then bring it back up as brine and pump it to the plant in the photo, where they evaporate the water in big boilers, leaving the salt. The steam/hot water from the evaporation process is then pumped back into the wells to make more brine. Sort of a closed system that works quite well.
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  #20  
Old Posted Dec 31, 2009, 6:11 PM
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Some stats for you guys on Sarnia's Chemical Valley.

http://www.ecojustice.ca/media-centr...valley-exposed

Accounts for more than 40% of Canada's total chemical industry

There are 62 industrial facilities within 25 kilometres of the Aamjiwnaang reserve and city of Sarnia, including 46 NPRI facilities


http://www.mesothel.com/asbestos-can...nada/dying.htm

For men living in the community, the overall cancer rate was about 34 per cent higher than the provincial average, the lung-cancer rate 50 per cent higher, the mesothelioma rate five times higher and the asbestosis rate nine times higher.


SARNIA TRANSIT even has a special bus route called the "Chemical Valley Special". Would you not love to ride that everyday
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