November 24, 1998

ENVIRONMENTAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION & SIERRA LEGAL DEFENCE FUND

Ontario Government Charged for Radioactive Contamination

In a private prosecution, the Ontario government has been charged 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 in eastern Ontario. Tom Adams, advisory panel member of the Environmental Bureau of Investigation (EBI) and executive director of Energy Probe, laid the charge on behalf of EBI and is represented by Douglas Chapman of the Sierra Legal Defence Fund who will prosecute the case.

The provincial government has managed this site, which Norm Sterling, Ontario Environment Minister, called “Ontario’s most contaminated land”, since 1979 and prior to that regulated the site’s private owners. “Far from protecting the public, the Ontario government has for decades permitted unconscionable and, we allege, criminal contamination of the land and the water,” said Tom Adams. Even in 1965, high ranking provincial officials acknowledged that this site “may necessitate surveillance and maintenance control measures for several decades” and yet agreed to let the corporate owner, Deloro Stellite, abandon the site and relieved it of its responsibility to clean it up.

A 1975 provincial Ministry of Health “House Closure Order” was issued as a result of an investigation by a federal-provincial task force (led by the Atomic Energy Control Board) forcing the Galloway family to evacuate their home which neighboured the mine site because of the health dangers of high radiation levels detected in their house. The Coroner’s public inquest determined that radiation exposure contributed to Mr. Galloway’s death by lung cancer in 1976. The house was later demolished by government officials but no further remedial measures were taken. “The Ontario government has known for years that this provincially-controlled site is releasing dangerous levels of radiaion,” says Stewart Elgie, managing lawyer for SLDF, “but it has apparently done nothing about it. How many more people have to die before it cleans up this radioactive mess?”

Immediately adjacent to the land where the Galloway house stood, which remains freely accessible to the public, EBI investigators recently found high radiation levels. Dr. Hari Sharma, EBI’s scientific advisor, measured radiation fields up to 3 millirem/hour – 100 times the accepted public dose limit. No warning signs are posted that may alert people that they are being exposed to this cancer-causing agent which can not be detected without specialized equipment.

Radioactive materials at the site include uranium and radium wastes from Port Hope, radioactive slag, cobalt, and possibly other materials. Both provincial and federal governments have been aware of the presence of radioactive materials at this site for at least two decades but have failed to protect the public from these radiation hazards.