Lake Ontario Waterkeeper takes a look back at the biggest stories of 2005. With photos and links to in-depth articles.
The Supreme Court of Canada announced that it would not hear the City of Kingston's last-ditch effort to avoid convictions under the Fisheries Act. The city was convicted in 1998 for allowing toxic liquids to leak into the Kingston Inner Harbour from an old hazardous waste site. The charges stemmed from the work of private citizen Janet Fletcher, environmental lawyer and now Waterkeeper Mark Mattson, and Sierra Legal Defence Fund.
Ontario's Ministry of Environment announced a year-long review of the efforts of major municipalities to clean up local beaches on Lake Ontario. The review came in response to an Environmental Bill of Rights application from Lake Ontario Waterkeeper and Lynda Lukasik (then of Environment Hamilton). Results of the review are expected in early 2006.
The Ministry of Environment shelved the proposed "Scrap Tire Diversion Program Plan" after two months of public comment uncovered serious flaws. The Plan was supposed to outline a waste division plan for used tires in Ontario (to help keep them out of landfills and local creeks, for example) and ended up advocating burning tires at cement plants. The Plan's own data showed that tire-burning would release more heavy metals and dramatically more particulates into the surrounding community than even coal. In the absence of a comprehensive Plan, Ontario cement companies are seeking permits to burn tires on their own.
The City of Kingston came under the microscope after raw sewage, debris, and other bio-waste washed ashore on Wolfe Island just hours after Kingston dumped 52-million litres of wastewater into Lake Ontario. After declining to lay charges or update the City's permits, in December the Ministry of Environment announced a voluntary program to improve notice and monitoring during future bypasses.
On Monday, May 2, 2005 environmental activist and reporter Bob Hunter passed away. Bob's life was - and continues to be - an inspiration for the many who follow in his footsteps, protecting and winning back our natural environment.
On Friday, June 24, 2005, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper submitted its comment on Cameco Corporation's proposal to make, transport, burn, and bury enriched uranium fuel to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. Waterkeeper, along with numerous community associations and environmental groups, voiced concerns about the potential impacts of the proposal. In September, Cameco Corporation cancelled the project and escaped a public hearing.
July saw the release of the agreements known as the "Draft Great Lakes Basin Sustainable Water Resources Agreement," and the, "Draft Great Lakes Basin Water Resources Compact." The Government of Ontario describes the first as a good faith agreement between eight Great Lakes States and the provinces of Ontario and Quebec and the latter as a binding agreement between the eight Great Lakes States. Together, these agreements set out who gets to take water out of the Great Lakes, how much they get to take, and under what circumstances. Following public comment and further negotiation, the two agreements were signed in December 2005.
In mid-August, an earthen wall gave way on a large dairy farm in upstate New York. Three million gallons of liquid manure poured into the Black River, wiping out fish populations and shutting down drinking water supplies downstream. News of the spill made headlines across North America and as far away as Australia. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation issued a Notice of Violation the same month.
On September 14, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty announced that the province was considering investing "billions" in new nuclear plants. McGuinty's announcement marked the renewed push for more nuclear power in Ontario and predated by three months the release of the province?s official proposal to build new nuclear plants.
Ottawa Riverkeeper hosted the second annual gathering of Canadian members of Waterkeeper Alliance. With ten programs nationwide, the Canadian network continued to grow in 2005. Two new Waterkeepers came on board - Thunder Baykeeper and Grand Riverkeeper, Labrador - and interest in the Alliance is spreading.
Last fall, the International Joint Commission traveled to Canadian and American communities around the Great Lakes in search of opinions on the future of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement between the two countries. Waterkeeper, along with hundreds of other organizations and individuals, contributed to the effort to win back the Great Lakes.
The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) launched a review of its Rules of Procedures and By-laws, seeking feedback on the public's experience with them, and asking for proposals for possible amendments.
aimed at making CNSC hearings more fair and transparent.