Water Pollution – Private Prosecution Fact Sheet
ACCUSED: The Province of Ontario, represented by the Ministry of Environment
OFFENCE DATES: November 1995 to November 1997
PLACE OF OFFENCE: Deloro, Ontario
OFFENCE: Fisheries Act, Section 35(1) and 36(3) Ontario Water Resources Act, Section 30(1)
RECEIVING WATER: Moira River and Young’s Creek
TYPE OF POLLUTION: Continuous discharges of arsenic and the heavy metals: cadmium, cobalt, copper, nickel and zinc. Fish habitat has been severely impacted in both fish-bearing rivers.
CIRCUMSTANCES: The Province of Ontario (MOE) has managed and controlled the site for 18 years. In 1980, the Ontario government exempted itself from an assessment of the site cleanup project under the Environmental Assessment Act, claiming that they had urgent work to do at the site including the containment of surface runoff. Seventeen years and 11 studies later, EBI investigators found highly contaminated surface runoff in plain view, discharging directly into the Moira River. An MOE official said he didn’t know it was toxic and that this discharge hadn’t been sampled for several years.
Arsenic is listed under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act on the priority substances list. Arsenic is acutely and chronically toxic to aquatic life as well as humans.
David Dillenbeck, a biologist with over 20 years experience at MOE investigated the site on behalf of EBI and states that “the discharges from the Deloro site are toxic to aquatic biota”. He also found that the fish habitat in both rivers has been severely damaged by the pollution leaving the site.
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 U.S. Further, studies have shown 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.
The current Ontario government has laid off more than 30% of staff at MOE, more than 40% of staff at MNR. It has recently announced that MNR will no longer be enforcing the provisions of the Fisheries Actthat protect fish habitat. At the same time, the prosecution alleges that this government is destroying fish habitat.
The NAFTA Commission for Environmental Cooperation has labelled Ontario as the third worst polluting jurisdiction in North America (out of sixty-four).
THE INFORMANT: Janet Fletcher is a local environmentalist and a member of EBI’s advisory panel
Radioactive Contamination – Private Prosecution Fact Sheet
ACCUSED: The Province of Ontario OFFENCE DATES: Between September 17 and November 14, 1998.
PLACE OF OFFENCE: Deloro mine site, Village of Deloro, Ontario.
OFFENCE: Discharging or Permitting the discharge of radiation into the natural environment that caused or was likely to cause an adverse effect. Environmental Protection Act, R.S.O., 1990, c. E.19, section 14 (1) and section 186 (1). ENVIRONMENT: An area near the western fence of the Deloro mine site to which the public has free unrestricted access.
TYPE OF POLLUTION: Dangerous radioactive contamination due to the presence of radioactive wastes which include uranium, radium and cobalt. Total radiation levels up to 3 millirem/hour and gamma fields at or above 0.75 millirem/hour were detected.
CIRCUMSTANCES: The Province of Ontario (MOE) has managed and controlled the abandoned Deloro mine site for 19 years.
Dr. Hari Sharma, Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at the University of Waterloo visited the site and took radiation readings and stated in his report: “…radioactive material that is outside the fenced area, where I measured the radiation field, presents a risk to the general public of deleterious health effects and an impairment to the safety of the general public. Furthermore, ongoing leaching of radium and other radionuclides from the Plant site poses serious environmental problems that have not been addressed.”
Radioactive wastes at the site come from many sources and include uranium and radium ores and cobalt-bearing materials. The scientists of the chemistry laboratory at Deloro are credited with developing the uranium smelting process for the Eldorado plant in Port Hope.
Fourteen radiation surveys have been conducted at the site since 1976, but none off-site since the involvement of the provincial federal task force on radioactivity led by the Atomic Energy Control Board in 1975. The 1975 survey led to the remediation of 4 of the 72 properties surveyed. One home was subsequently demolished but the radioactive material was not removed from the property where high radiation levels were detected in 1998.
The MOE enforcement officers are not trained nor do they have proper equipment such as Geiger counters to investigate radiation hazards in Ontario.
The Low Level Radioactive Waste Management Office, a federal agency, has a “marginal involvement” at the Deloro site through the “Technical Liaison Committee” but, like the Atomic Energy Control Board, it has refused any responsibility including much needed funding for the clean up of the site.
THE INFORMANT: Tom Adams is the executive director of Energy Probe and a member of the Environmental Bureau of Investigation Advisory Panel.
CONTACTS: Tom Adams, Energy Probe and Stewart Elgie, Sierra Legal Defence Fund