Energy, Nukes, Tritium, Radiation, Toxic Substances and Water

CELA Bulletin

75: 17-June-2009

Periodic E-News from the Canadian Environmental Law Association

In this issue:

  • Remembering Rhonda Hustler

Energy, Nukes, Tritium and Radiation

  • Yet Another Call for Major Lowering of the Standard for Tritium in Drinking Water
  • Canada in The Dark Ages in Radiation Protection
  • Ontario Passes Green Energy and Green Economy Act; Province Should Heed Own Law and Not Buy New Nukes

Toxic Substances

  • CELA Stands with Coalition Behind Students' Call to Ban Asbestos Mining and Exports
  • Ontario Passes Toxics Reduction Act; Need for Strong Implementing Regulations
  • Banning More Chemicals under POPs Treaty: Key Exemptions Undermine Overall Progress
  • Missed Opportunity with Product Safety Bill;  No Progress Achieved Via Health Committee Review
  • Supporting a Cosmetic Pesticide Ban in New Brunswick

Water

  • Great Lakes United Applauds Decision to Renegotiate Great Lakes Agreement
  • Waterlife: NFB Film About the Great Lakes


Remembering Rhonda Hustler
CELA staff and environmental friends are all mourning the loss of Dr. Rhonda Hustler, the beloved wife of CELA Counsel Joe Castrilli. At her beautiful memorial service held last weekend in Picton we learned how her loss was being felt by her family in the County, her environmental family where she organized fights against Toronto’s garbage at Warwick and Watford, Ontario and other candidate sites, by the students she infused with her love of words and the Healthy Communities movement to which she contributed. Many people treasured Rhonda as a wise friend and were recipients of her gifts of handmade stained glass and hand carved fish. She was a powerful woman who could use power tools, and left her mark on many worlds in many gentle yet determined and permanent ways. Our condolences go to Blake her son, her husband Joe Castrilli, our CELA colleague, and to her many family and friends ( on-line notice and guest book).


Energy, Nukes, Tritium and Radiation

Yet Another Call for Major Lowering of the Standard for Tritium in Drinking Water
Fifteen years on, the expert advice is the same: Ontario needs to dramatically reduce the standard for tritium in drinking water. In it's report, the Ontario Drinking Water Advisory Council echoes Ontario’s former Advisory Committee on Environmental Standards and more recent advice from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health and the Toronto Cancer Prevention Coalition, to make the tritium in drinking water standard more health-protective. In a June 10/09 media release, CELA notes that the ODWAC recommendation underscores our long-held position that nuclear power is a toxic, expensive and unethical mistake that requires an orderly and determined phase out for the sake of ensuring both cancer prevention and the availability of public and private resources for developing a green energy future for Ontario. CELA has asked Environment Minister John Gerretsen to swiftly place the ODWAC recommendation into a revised drinking water standard for public review and comment.

For more information:
Theresa McClenaghan, Executive Director and Counsel 416-662-8341 theresa@cela.ca
Sarah Miller, Water Policy Researcher 416-960-2284 ext. 213

Canada Remains in the Dark Ages on Radiation Protection
CELA is a proud member of the Advisory Board to the  Tritium Awareness Project, who recently summarized the many ongoing problems with radiation protection in Canada stemming from multiple flaws in the mandate and oversight of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission CNSC).  TAP recommends the elimination of all ties between the CNSC and the federal Ministry of Natural Resources to ensure independence of the regulatory agency. TAP further recommends that the CNSC be required to establish a world-class health department with a cadre of well-trained professionals in the biomedical field who are not linked to the nuclear industry or to agencies promoting nuclear power.

For more information:
Theresa McClenaghan, Executive Director and Counsel 416-662-8341 theresa@cela.ca

Ontario Passes Green Energy Act; Province Should Heed Own Law and Not Buy New Nukes
With the new  Green Energy and Green Economy Act, 2009, Ontario says that it now gives priority to expanding clean and renewable sources of energy as a cornerstone of Ontario's future prosperity. CELA made submissions on this new law and will be responding to draft regulations posted to the EBR Registry in advance of the July 24/09 deadline. Moreover, CELA and other environmental and safe energy groups recently  wrote to Premier McGuinty noting the Province should heed its own law and decide against purchasing a new reactor this summer (view media release and backgrounder).

For more information:
Theresa McClenaghan, Executive Director and Counsel 416-662-8341 theresa@cela.ca

Toxic Substances

BC Students Call for Law to Ban Asbestos Mining and Exports
Answering the challenge of MP Nathan Cullen's "Create Your Canada" contest, four BC students say their Canada includes a ban on asbestos. Supported by over 25 national civil society and social justice organizations, the students visited Ottawa in early June to see Cullen sponsor their recommendation in a private members' bill to ban the mining and exporting of this known carcinogen. The federal government continues to support Canada’s asbestos trade, claiming that, although Canadian asbestos is known to cause cancer, rigorous safety standards exist in developing countries to which Canada exports over 95% of its asbestos, and therefore it poses no risk. A recent CBC documentary, Canada's Ugly Secret, provides dramatic confirmation that the federal government's position is morally and scientifically bankrupt. Canadian asbestos is contributing to extensive cancer suffering and deaths in India and is being incorporated into products and buildings such that it will remain a toxic legacy in that country for decades into the future.
Write to your MP and tell him/her to Ban Asbestos Now.

For more information:
Kathleen Ruff, Rideau Institute on International Affairs and Ban Asbestos Canada 250-847-1848 kruff@bulkley.net
Diana Daghofer, Prevent Cancer Now  250-364-8894 diana@wspring.ca
At CELA: Senior Researchers Kathleen Cooper or Fe de Leon 416-960-2284 ext 221 or ext 223 kcooper@cela.ca or deleonf@cela.ca
 

Ontario Passes Toxics Reduction Act - Need for Strong Implementing Regulations
CELA is pleased to see the recent passage of Bill 167, the Toxics Reduction Act, 2009. The government's stated goal of the Toxics Reduction Strategy is to help protect the health and environment of Ontarians by reducing the use of toxic substances in air, land, water and consumer products while supporting the transition of industry to a green economy. CELA will be looking for strong regulations to ensure this commitment is realized. In addition to calling for extensive consultation, CELA will be pressing for the regulations to define classes of facilities and thresholds for substances covered by the law and a clear timeline for phase two when the majority (400 out of 445) of substances are included under the law, as proposed by the government's Expert Panel. CELA will also ask for additional toxic substances and substances of concern to be tracked in Ontario and for the regulations to spell out the components of a toxics reduction plan. CELA also continues to call on the province for additional measures including establishing a toxic use reduction institute, provisions to require substitution of safer substances when they exist, and establishment of targets and timetables for toxic use reduction in the province. View on-line: June 3/09 media releaseMay 13/09 submissions to the Standing Committee on General Governance, further submissions from May 22/09 or full collection.

For more information:
Theresa McClenaghan, Executive Director and Counsel 416-662-8341 theresa@cela.ca
Sarah Miller, Water Policy Researcher 416-960-2284 ext. 213

Banning More Chemicals under POPs Treaty: Key Exemptions Undermine Overall Progress
CELA's Fe de Leon recently attended the 4th Conference of the Parties (COP4) in Geneva, as an NGO member of the Canadian delegation, where intense discussions resulted in the addition of nine chemicals to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). Prior to COP4, the Stockholm Convention aimed to eliminate the production and use of the "dirty dozen" including dioxins and furans, hexachlorobenzene, mirex, and PCBs. With environmental and health groups from across Canada and working with the International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN), CELA wrote to Prime Minister Stephen Harper to seek Canadian support for a full ban on three brominated flame retardant mixtures, the pesticides chlordecone, lindane and both Alpha and Beta hexachlorocyclohexane (by-products of lindane production), as well as a ban with very limited exemptions on pentachlorobenzene (used in the past as a pesticide and flame retardant) and perfluoroctane sulfonate (a highly toxic group of chemicals used in multiple consumer products and that shows no sign of environmental degradation). The Parties ultimately agreed to list all nine chemicals/chemical groups but allowed several important exemptions that threaten the integrity of the Convention (view IPEN media release), in particular by allowing continued recycling of materials containing highly toxic flame retardants and numerous continued uses of PFOS. See IPEN Guide to New POPs for more details. As a Party to the Stockholm Convention, Canada will have one year to support any legal amendments to the Convention based on the decisions made at COP4.  CELA along with Canadian NGOs will continue to monitor the government response.

For more information:
Fe de Leon, Senior Researcher, 416-960-2284 ext. 223 deleonf@cela.ca

Missed Opportunity: Standing Committee on Health Refuses to Strengthen Product Safety Bill
The federal bill to reform the Hazardous Products Act contains useful and long overdue provisions to strengthen the federal government's ability to react to dangers in consumer products, such as via the use of product recall powers and an enhanced and streamlined process for record-keeping, inspections and fines. However, the Bill lacks provisions to proactively prevent the use of toxic substances in consumer products. For example, it would not prevent continued use of lead in children's toys but only provide powers for such toys to be recalled and fines assigned, if the products were found via inspections, for example, as imports at the border. At Committee hearings on Bill C-6, prominent health, environmental and other public interest organizations sought amendments to the Bill in order to require an ordered phase-down of highly toxic substances in products and a provision for labelling of products that contain substances that are carcinogenic or toxic to reproduction. The Committee refused to do so and the Bill passed Third Reading on June 12/09.

For more information:
Kathleen Cooper, Senior Researcher 416-960-2284 ext. 221 kcooper@cela.ca

Supporting a Ban on Cosmetic Pesticide Use in New Brunswick
CELA has sent a message to New Brunswick Premier Shawn Graham congratulating him on a commitment to enact a provincial ban on the cosmetic use of pesticides. CELA has urged the Premier to pass a strong law, similar to the leadership shown in Ontario and supported by the Canadian Cancer Society and the New Brunswick Lung Association. In yet another in a long string of public opinion polls, Ipsos Reid has found the same high level of support seen in polls conducted for the past ten years in many parts of Canada. Nearly 80% of New Brunswick residents support a cosmetic pesticide ban. To show your support, contact the Premier of New Brunswick at: Shawn.Graham@gnb.ca.
 
For more information:
Theresa McClenaghan, Executive Director and Counsel 416-662-8341 theresa@cela.ca
Kathleen Cooper, Senior Researcher 416-960-2284 ext. 221 kcooper@cela.ca

Water

Great Lakes United Applauds Decision to Renegotiate Great Lakes Agreement
On the 100th Anniversary of signing the Boundary Waters Treaty, the US and Canadian governments agreed to renegotiate the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Great Lakes United is delighted noting its work in 2007 to identify 13 principles to guide renegotiation. GLU now hopes to refine these principles, ensure they are included in the Agreement, noting also the need for public involvement to build a lasting framework to address Great Lakes issues in coming years and decades (GLU media release).

For more information:
John Jackson, GLU Director of Clean Production and Toxics, 519-744-7503, 519-591-7503 (cell)
Derek Stack, GLU Executive Director, 613-797-9532
At CELA: Sarah Miller, Water Policy Researcher, 416-960-2284, ext. 213

Waterlife - Beautiful Film About the Great Lakes
Toronto filmmaker Kevin McMahon consulted CELA several years ago about his dream to make a film about the Great Lakes ecosystem that would connect people to the grandeur of this place while enumerating the mounting stressors on the system. His stunning full length documentary Waterlife won the Special Jury prize at this year’s Hot Doc Festival and is now having a limited run in mainstream theatres. Kevin has invited friends of the Great Lakes, including CELA's Sarah Miller, to speak with his audiences. Narrators in the film include many voices CELA has worked with over the years including Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip, CELA Director John Jackson, Scientist Michael Gilbertson, Researcher Tom Muir and Professor Gail Krantzberg. Visit OurWaterlife.com for details about screenings, trailers, and more.


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