More than four years after citizens first documented PCBs leaking into the St. Lawrence River in Montreal, the Commission for Environmental Cooperation released a 327-page report documenting Canada's failure to enforce federal environmental laws.
The Factual Record focuses on widespread contamination at the Montreal Technoparc site and the government's knowledge that toxins such as PCBs leak continuously into the St. Lawrence River. Samples collected by Waterkeeper Mark Mattson in 2002 showed PCB concentrations nearly nine-million times greater than levels considered threatening to human and aquatic life. PCBs are one of the most feared chemicals in the world.
"The Commission's investigation reveals willful blindness on the part of the federal government, inconsistent enforcement and apathy in the face of shocking levels of pollution," says Mark Mattson, President & Waterkeeper with Lake Ontario Waterkeeper.
Mattson and Montreal-based environmental activist Daniel Green collected samples at the Technoparc site. They gave their investigation to Environment Canada in 2003, but the federal government closed the investigation and PCBs continued to pour in the St. Lawrence River.
In 2003, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, Waterkeeper Alliance, Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper and local activist Daniel Green jointly filed a citizen submission with the Commission for Environmental Cooperation. The Commission is a formal oversight body created under the North American Free Trade Agreement to monitor environmental enforcement in North America. The Commission rejected Environment Canada's defenses and ordered that a factual record be prepared back in 2004.
"Our hope is that this factual record, which definitively establishes a fundamental breakdown in enforcement and environmental protection on so many levels, will provide the impetus for the Canadian government to finally act," stated Waterkeeper Alliance Legal Director Scott Edwards.
Listen to Living at the Barricades.
This week on the Living At the Barricades Podcast - the fight for swimable, drinkable, fishable waterways blazes on through the summer. New updates from:
The Petitcodiac River: After 40 years, the Petitcodiac causeway is set to be removed, ushering in an era of rejuvenation for the River and its community. Hear from the Petitcodiac Riverkeeper,Tim Van Hinte.
The St. Clair River: A trial date is set for Edwards v. DTE Energy. Hear from co-counsel in the case, Doug Chapman.
Lake Ontario: In a June 18 ruling, Ontario's Divisional Court affirmed the right of citizens to challenge Lafarge's plan to burn tires, plastic, and other waste in a cement kiln near Kingston, ON. On July 3, 2008 Lafarge announced that it will go to the Ontario Court of Appeal to overturn the Divisonal Court's ruling.
The St. Lawrence River: A recently released a report by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation highlights Government inaction surrounding the Technoparc landfill in Montreal that continues to leak PCBs and PAHs into the St. Lawrence. Hear from Daniel Green of SOCIETE POUR VAINCRE LA POLLUTION. (SVP).