Court decision on prosecution of Ontario Government for pollution violations expected June 27
A backgrounder on the case is attached.
The decision of The Honourable Madam Justice Celine Dorval will be rendered on pollution charges laid against the Ontario Government by Kingston environmentalist Janet Fletcher of the Environmental Bureau of Investigation (EBI). The charges allege that heavy metal emissions including arsenic, nickel, and cobalt released from a government?controlled former industrial site in the town of Deloro in Eastern Ontario have damaged the Moira River and Young’s Creek, two water courses that ultimately drain into the Bay of Quinte.
June 27, 2001, 9:30 am.
Elgin Street Courthouse, Ottawa, Rm #9.
EBI CONFERENCE CALL FOR THE PRESS:
A conference call for reporters wishing to speak to the EBI team will be accessible between 2:00 and 2:45 pm on June 27. To join the call, please phone 512-225-3050 and use code 88648#.
CONTACT INFORMATION BEFORE JUNE 27:
Janet Fletcher (EBI Informant): 613-533-6000 ext. 77720 Mark Mattson (EBI Executive Director): 416-926-1792 Tom Adams (EBI Investigator): 416-964-9223 ext. 239
CONTACT INFORMATION ON JUNE 27:
Janet Fletcher: 416-697-7814 (cell) Mark Mattson: 416-697-7814 (cell)
Tom Adams: 416-964-9223 ext. 239
Deloro Pollution Trial Backgrounder (Current as of June 25, 2001)
In November 1997, EBI’s Janet Fletcher laid eight charges against the Ontario government under the Federal Fisheries Act Section 35(l) and 36(3) and the Ontario Water Resources Act Section 30(l). The charges allege the continuous discharges of arsenic, cadmium, cobalt, copper, nickel and zinc from the Deloro industrial site into the Moira River and Young’s Creek. A trial on these charges has been completed and the decision is expected to be rendered June 27, 2001.
In November 1998, Thomas Adams of EBI, laid a single charge against the Ontario government under the provincial Environmental Protection Act for radioactive contamination of the natural environment west of the Deloro mine site property in the Village of Deloro. This charge is in abeyance awaiting the outcome of the water related charges.
Fletcher and Adams were initially represented by counsel Douglas Chapman of Sierra Legal Defence Fund (SLDF). SLDF supported some investigation activities behind the case.
The Ontario Attorney General intervened in the cases. Ian Scott, a prominent criminal lawyer in private practice, was appointed to prosecute. Mark Mattson, Executive Director of EBI, and Douglas Chapman assisted Mr. Scott as co-counsel during the trial.
The prosecution case, which required a day and a half, called witnesses associated with EBI: Mark Mattson, Tom Adams, and retired Ministry of Environment (MOE) biologist Dave Dillenbeck.
The defence, led by Kenneth Jull of the firm Beard Winter, presented extensive evidence from government employees and consultants over approximately 40 days of trial.
The trial commenced in December 1999 and final submissions were delivered in April 2001.
The Bay of Quinte, into which the Moira River flows, has been designated as an area of concern under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement between Canada and the United States. Studies associated with the Bay of Quinte Remedial Action Plan estimate that the Moira River is the source of 70% of arsenic loadings to the bay and that the Deloro site is the major contributor of this arsenic contamination.
Since the private charges were laid, the Deloro site perimeter, which includes most of the highly contaminated zone around the industrial site, has now been fenced to exclude the public. Signage warning of some of the dangers are now posted on the perimeter. A health risk assessment study was undertaken. It identified among other problems, contaminated soil and several local children with elevated urine arsenic levels. A downstream river assessment was conducted that identified highly contaminated sediments. Radioactive waste was removed from the town playground as well as an area of the town near the site’s west entrance frequented by local citizens, including children.
A class action suit, independent of EBI and SLDF, has been launched by local citizens against many parties alleged to be associated with on- and off-site contamination, including the MOE.