This week, Waterkeeper will submit its final comments to the Commission for Environmental Cooperation regarding Environment Canada's failure to stop PCBs pouring into the St. Lawrence River.
Samples taken by Waterkeeper and other groups show PCBs in the river are more than 8 million times above levels considered safe for human and aquatic life.
The Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) is an international organization created to address regional environmental concerns, help prevent potential trade and environmental conflicts, and to promote the effective enforcement of environmental law. Its work is intended to complement the environmental provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
In August 2003, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, Waterkeeper Alliance, and supporting organizations complained to the CEC that Environment Canada is failing to enforce the Fisheries Act by allowing PCBs to leak into the St. Lawrence River near Old Montreal.
Environment Canada was given the opportunity to defend its actions. In August 2004, the CEC ruled that Environment Canada's statement, "left open central questions" and ordered the creation of a factual record.
Waterkeeper will submit its final report to the CEC today. After which, the CEC will publish a factual record describing the nature of the contamination, the City of Montreal's and Environment Canada's response, and the federal government's policies on environmental law enforcement.
Despite a five-year investigation by citizens, a one-year investigation by Environment Canada, and nearly two years of investigation by the CEC, PCBs continue to leak into the St. Lawrence River.
Last week, the City of Montreal announced that it will spend $1.5-million to build a retaining wall that may help to stop some of the leaking PCBs.