March 6, 2008

Globe and Mail

Watchdog sitting on PCB report, group says
by Martin Mittelstaedt

Environmentalists contend that NAFTA’s pollution watchdog is sitting on a report critical of the Canadian government for failing to take action over massive amounts of PCBs seeping into the St. Lawrence River as part of Montreal’s former Expo ’67 site.

The watchdog, the Commission for Environmental Co-operation has completed an investigation intended to either prove or disprove the embarrassing claim that the Canadian government isn’t bothering to protect aquatic life from one of the world’s most feared hazardous chemicals, a transformer fluid linked to cancer.

But the report on the outcome of the investigation is sitting on the Montreal desk of Adrián Vázquez-Gálvez, executive director of the organization set up to monitor pollution for Mexico, Canada and the United States under the free-trade agreement.

Scott Edwards, senior attorney with the Waterkeeper Alliance, one of the groups that made the PCB allegation, says the investigation is being held up because of worries about offending the Canadians, who have complained about past probes concluding that the government has failed to enforce environmental laws.