(SARNIA, ONTARIO) Michigan's DTE Energy Company is being charged for its role in polluting the St. Clair River with mercury. Scott Edwards, a Canadian citizen and authority on mercury pollution, was in Sarnia court Wednesday alleging that DTE Energy's coal-fired energy complex on the banks of the St. Clair River has been breaching Canada's Fisheries Act for two years.
DTE Energy, the parent company of Detroit Edison, operates the St. Clair/Belle River coal-fired power plant complex in Michigan. On average, the facility emits 2,000 pounds of mercury each year. A test of pollution control technology in 2004 reduced mercury emissions at the St. Clair plant by 94%. At the conclusion of the 30-day test, DTE Energy stopped using the mercury control technology.
More than half of DTE Energy's mercury emissions land in Canada. When the mercury enters the St. Clair River, it spreads throughout the food chain, harmfully altering fish habitat and rendering fish unsafe for human consumption.
Edwards is alleging that DTE's mercury deposits are illegal under Canada's Fisheries Act and has launched a private prosecution. Private prosecutions allow any Canadian citizen to independently prosecute offences in the criminal courts. Fines under the Fisheries Act can range up to $1-million a day.
â€œDTE has acted with a blatant disregard for the health and welfare of Canadian citizens and Canadian law,â€ states Edwards. My hope is that this prosecution will result in significant reductions in DTE Energy's mercury emissions and a cleaner and safer St. Clair River.
Scott Edwards is the Legal Director for Waterkeeper Alliance, a global coalition of 150 grassroots environmental groups, and a leading authority on mercury pollution. He is being aided by three other affiliates of Waterkeeper Alliance, Mark Mattson, Doug Chapman and Doug Martz. Mattson is lead investigator and the Lake Ontario Waterkeeper. Doug Chapman is lead counsel and the Fraser Riverkeeper. Martz is the St. Clair Channelkeeper.
The court will set a date for the initial hearing later this month.
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Contact: Scott Edwards, Informant, 914-674-0622 ext.13 Mark Mattson, Investigator and co-counsel, 416-861-1237 Doug Chapman, Counsel, 604-646-0477