Contact: Mark Mattson
President & Waterkeeper
(Toronto) - The Province of Ontario announced this morning that it intends to pass new legislation creating a streamlined process for investigating and charging industrial polluters. This legislation will enable the government to more effectively punish industrial polluters and compensate affected communities without watering down the current environmental laws in the province.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr, president of Waterkeeper Alliance, applauded the move: "This announcement signals a renewed commitment to enforcing Caanda?s environmental laws and an end to the race to the bottom for lower standards in North America," he said.
Over the past year, numerous Waterkeeper programs on the Great Lakes have been openly critical of the Ontario government for failing to take steps to address the epidemic of industrial spills in Sarnia?s ?chemical valley.? These groups include Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, the St. Clair Channelkeeper, the Detroit Riverkeeper and the Canadian Detroit Riverkeeper.
"There are thousands of spills in Ontario every single year. Until now, one-time pollution incidents were difficult to investigate and even more difficult for government to prosecute. All that changed today," says Mark Mattson, the Canadian board member for Waterkeeper Alliance.
A major beneficiary of these new rules will be U.S. communities downstream from Canadian polluters, such as those on the St. Clair River. It is not yet clear whether compensation will include funding for water quality monitoring equipment, one of the key requests in these communities.
A backgrounder on the Sarnia spills is available on Lake Ontario Waterkeeper?s web site: http://www.waterkeeper.ca/lok/index.cfm?DSP=showletter&NewsID=1298