|Province in court Sept.29Ministry accused of dragging feet on site cleanup
By Henry Bury – The Intelligencer
A court appearance has been set for Sept. 29 at which time the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Energy will present its report in defence of eight charges laid against the provincial government. It’s accused of dragging its feet on the cleanup of a massive arsenic dump site at the closed Deloro mine site north of Belleville.Janet Fletcher, representing the Environmental Bureau of Investigation, brought the charges against the ministry last November because she said the province had had long enough to cleanup the site. She has received support from The Sierra Legal Defence Fund. The charges fall under various provincial environment statutes.
Justice of the Peace Sheila Matchett of Provincial Offences Court put the matter over until Sept. 29 after a brief court apppearance Tuesday morning. Doug Chapman of the Sierra Legal Defence Fund asked Matchett to put the case over for another month to allow his group time to study a report recently completed by the ministry into the matter. There were no lawyers present on behalf of the ministry.
In an interview afterwards, Chapman said the ministry’s investigation and
enforcement branch conducted an investigation into the group’s charges. “That investigation has been completed and the report produced recently. We haven’t seen the government report. We’ve asked the case be put over to Sept. 29 so that the report can be examined by everyone,” said Chapman. He added the ideal situation would be for the defence organization to examine the ministry’s report prior to next month’s court date. Chapman speculated the ministry’s report “will look into whether these private charges are valid charges. It may also look at whether the province was duly diligent in running that site with the intent of preventing pollution.” Acknowledging that his group can’t do anything further on the matter until the report is made public, Chapman was adamant “that by no means is the matter dropped.”The Deloro site has been described as one of the most hazardous toxic waste sites in the province. Last spring, the provincial environment ministry announced more than $10 million in remediation work at the mine and said it was committed to decommissioning the site.
Since the turn of the century, Deloro was the scene of a bustling gold mine and, later, a site for processing gold and semi-precious metals from other mines in the province.