February 2017 Bulletin

Strengthening proposed guidelines on bottled water

CELA partnered with the Wellington Water Watchers to submit comments to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change on its proposed Bottled Water Technical Guidance Document. CELA strongly supports the moratorium on the issuance of new or increasing permits to take groundwater for bottling. Our submission suggested ways to strengthen the proposed guidelines through improved decision standards and study areas, and requiring mandatory public consultations and reporting. Our submission was endorsed by five environmental organizations.

CELA responds to Waste-Free Ontario Strategy

After passing the Waste-Free Ontario Act, 2016, the provincial government recently solicited public comments on its proposed Strategy for a Waste-Free Ontario. This strategy sets out goals, objectives, and actions intended to achieve "zero waste", establish the circular economy, and eliminate GHG emissions from the waste sector. In response, CELA, Citizens' Network on Waste Management and Toronto Environmental Alliance jointly submitted a detailed brief that identifies various ways to strengthen and expand the proposed strategy.

Improving proposed Bill 39 on aggregate resources

Along with Environmental Defence and Ontario Nature, CELA gave a joint presentation before the Ontario Standing Committee on Justice Policy to present our comments on proposed Bill 39 Aggregate Resources and Mining Modernization Act, 2016. We were dissatisfied with the bill, which would weaken governmental oversight of aggregate operations, and we urged several amendments that would retain the requirement of annual compliance reports, establish fixed term licences, and enhance opportunities for public participation.

Protecting children from lead and cadmium

Scientific evidence clearly and causally links low-level lead exposure and multiple health problems in children as well as hypertension and cardiovascular disease in adults. Yet, many products still contain lead. Continuing a glacial pace of regulating such products, Health Canada has proposed to amend the Children’s Jewellery Regulations by adding limits on cadmium and also eliminating the distinction between total lead and migratable lead (a move we sought 13 years ago when the regulations were first proposed). Still problematic is the narrow focus on jewellery marketed to children thus avoiding probably 90 per cent of the problem of lead in costume jewellery that is readily available to children. The proposed Consumer Products Containing Lead Regulations also expand the age range of products to be regulated, again, putting in place regulations according to how products are marketed vs. how they are used or accessible to children. Still, we expressed support for some very modest, very slow progress towards greater regulation of lead in products.

Strengthening the licensing rules for new reactor facilities

CELA and Greenpeace provided comments on comments submitted to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) in relation to the RegDoc 1.1.1, Licence to Prepare Site and Site Evaluation for New Reactor Facilities. We did this because many of the previous comments were from nuclear power plant operators and they mirrored each other. We made several recommendations, such as requesting the CNSC apply its jurisdiction on the suitability of a site in relation to the specific technology, and urging it not to relax requirements for assessment of the suitability of a site due to size of the reactor. (Credit: Mike Mozart/Flickr)

(Credit: Mike Mozart/Flickr)

Listing triclosan as a toxic substance under CEPA

Along with over 35 organizations, CELA submitted a statement on triclosan to the Ministers of Health and Environment in support of prohibiting the on-going use of triclosan in consumer products in Canada. For years many organizations, including CELA, have urged the federal government to phase out this chemical in all products and address the ongoing presence of triclosan in the environment. Our submission highlighted our concerns with the final assessment decisions including bioaccumulation and persistence and featured key studies and reports which weren't given adequate consideration in the human health assessment. We expressed our concerns with the proposed risk management strategy for triclosan and urged the government to develop regulatory measures to prohibit the substance in consumer products.

Environmental review tribunal hearing involving atrazine

CELA counsel represented the Concerned Citizens of Brant (CCOB) in a hearing before the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) in relation to a proposed operation of a gravel pit in Paris, Ontario. CCOB was concerned that atrazine, a herbicide that had been previously used at the site, would result in groundwater contamination as a result of the proposed operation. CCOB called a toxicologist, a hydrogeologist and an engineer to provide expert testimony at the hearing. In addition, nine members of the community also made presentations to the ERT.

(Credit: Indigo Skies Photography/Flickr)

EVENT: Lead in Drinking Water: Webinar on March 2

In this free webinar, presenters from CELA, the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC), and the Ontario Drinking Water Advisory Council (ODWAC) will discuss the Ontario government's approaches to lead in drinking water. Following the presentation there will be an opportunity to ask questions. Speakers will include CELA’s executive director Theresa McClenaghan, MOECC's director of safe drinking water Cammy Mack, and ODWAC's chair Jim Smith.

BLOG: Where’s the strategy for the safe disposal of mercury in CFLs?

Despite years of public education about the safe disposal of mercury contained in compact fluorescent lightbulbs, many Canadians remain unaware of the health risks when their CFLs break or reach the end of life. Despite nearly ten years of talk and report writing there is an inconsistent and incomplete patchwork of slow and inadequate responses across Canada to the problem of CFL disposal. Federal MPs recently voted to continue this talkfest instead of exerting greater leadership. CELA senior researcher Kathleen Cooper weighs in on this issue.

BLOG: The Provincial Strategy for a Waste-Free Ontario

In 2016, the Ontario Legislature enacted the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act to divert more waste materials from disposal and back into the economy to reduce the use of raw resources. But is the government's proposed strategy really helpful or just an excuse for inaction? CELA counsel Rick Lindgren explains.

BLOG: Ontario’s big secret – the real cause of rising electricity rates

Since 2002 Ontario Power Generation’s price of nuclear power has risen by 60 per cent, and it is now seeking a 180 per cent price increase to pay for the continued operation of its high-cost Pickering Nuclear Station and the re-building of Darlington’s aging reactors. Angela Bischoff from the Ontario Clean Air Alliance contributes a guest post to the CELA blog.