International commission demands answers from Canadian government for Technoparc PCB contamination
by Lake Ontario Waterkeeper
Montreal:Yesterday, the Commission on Environmental Cooperation (CEC) requested a response from the Canadian Government to charges that it has failed to enforce the Fisheries Act for discharges of PCB’s and other toxic wastes into the St. Lawrence River at the Technoparc landfill site in downtown Montreal. The allegations were raised last month in a CEC submission by Waterkeeper Alliance, which was joined in the submission by Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper, Sociéte pour Vaincre la Pollution, and the Environmental Bureau of Investigation (EBI).
Community groups first documented PCB discharges 8.5 million times higher than the legal limit three years ago and the submitters cite studies showing elevated levels of PCBs in Montreal-area fishers. PCBs can cause cancer in humans, harm reproductive and immune systems, and are associated with reduced IQ and short-term memory loss. [For more information, please see EBI’s Technoparc Report: http://www.e-b-i.net/ebi/technoparc/technoparcReport.html#Technoparc]
After visiting the Technoparc site in August, Waterkeeper Alliance President Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. stated, “I have never seen [a site] where you can actually see material seeping out of the site into the river. This is a serious crime. If this were happening in the United States, there would be federal indictments, without a doubt.”
The Submitters greeted the Commission’s determination with guarded optimism. “The CEC’s determination represents another step in our continuing efforts to have the Technoparc site properly remediated and help restore the vitality of this important water body,” stated environmental lawyer and Technoparc investigator, Mark Mattson of Lake Ontario Waterkeeper. “We look forward to the Canadian government’s response to the allegations raised in our submission.”
The CEC is a joint US-Canadian-Mexican agency established by the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation. Its purpose is to help increase cooperation between governments to better conserve, protect, and enhance the environment, particularly the shared fisheries and to make sure that NAFTA partners are not cutting corners in enforcing environmental laws for economic reasons. The timely decision of the CEC is reflective of the growing importance and effectiveness of this international body in addressing the many environmental problems that transcend international boundaries.
The Technoparc submission is evidence of the growing partnerships between US and Canadian environmental groups working together to improve the quality of our vital natural resources. The Waterkeeper Alliance presently has 114 member programs across North America and around the world. For more information, please visit www.waterkeeper.ca
The CEC report is available at www.waterkeeper.ca/lok/documents/CEC.pdf