June 28/2001

Government acquitted in Deloro water charges
by EBI

On June 27, 2001, Justice Celynne Dorval acquitted the Province of Ontario on all charges for the toxic contamination of the Moira River and Young’s Creek. After more than seven weeks of trial — one of the longest environmental trials in Canadian history — Justice Dorval accepted the evidence of Environmental Bureau of Investigation and the Sierra Legal Defence Fund investigators and experts that substances leaving the Deloro Mine site qualify as “deleterious” under the Fisheries Act, but found that the ministry had exercised due diligence between November 1995 and November 1997.

“Although too much time had elapsed in fragmented studies of parts of the property previously, as of 1993 the defendant had a detailed and planned approach to the remediation of a complex site. The defendant proceeded with minor but essential components of its plan pending the approval of funding,” wrote Justice Dorval in her decision.

“Despite the decision, EBI will keep an eye on the Deloro toxic waste site to ensure the contaminants are contained, as the Ministry promised to do during the course of the trial,” promises executive director Mark Mattson.

Following the laying of charges, the government has taken a number of corrective measures, including fencing the site, installing warning signs, and testing local citizens for arsenic contamination.

Since EBI’s Deloro investigation began in 1997, the group has gone on to investigate other sites, including a Hamilton dumpsite in 1998, resulting in fines to the city in 2000. EBI will also be launching the Lake Ontario Keeper program next week – a full-time presence which will deter polluters on the lake.