DTE Energy Company, the parent company of Detroit Edison, was charged over mercury pollution in the St. Clair River. Scott Edwards, an authority on mercury pollution, recently swore an Information in Sarnia court. He alleges 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 operates the St. Clair/Belle River coal-fired power plant complex in Michigan. On average, the facility emits thousands of pounds of mercury each year. Edwards' case is the first of its kind, linking air emissions from a U.S-based facility to the destruction of fish habitat in Canada.
"There's no evidence that mercury emissions from the St. Clair and Belle River power plants have in any way affected fish habitat," a DTE spokesperson told the Port Huron Times Herald.
Informant Scott Edwards says he will prove otherwise: "We've got the actual data about how much mercury they're emitting, and we've got data proving how much is ending up in the river ... Those indicate that one of the most significant contributors of mercury into that watershed are these facilities," he told the Times Herald.
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.
"My dream resolution is that DTE Energy installs in their Detroit Edison facilities ... readily available mercury-control technologies. I want to see the river restored to a healthy waterway, so people, birds and fish can enjoy it," Edwards said in the Detroit Free Press.
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.
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 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 process hearing later this month.
More information: Edwards v. DTE Energy: Information Page