CELA Applauds Action on Chemicals of Mutual Concern in the Great Lakes

Jun 01 2016

Toronto, ON – The Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) applauds action taken by the US and Canadian governments yesterday in designating 8 toxic chemicals of mutual concern in the Great Lakes (see https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/canada-and-united-states-target-reductions-chemicals-new-binational-list-reduce-public). The designation follows 3 years of work to identify and evaluate the first group of candidate chemicals. The two governments have taken this step under their Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.

The designation now requires the governments to develop management strategies to address these chemicals. The 8 chemicals of mutual concern that were named late yesterday include:

• hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD)
• polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs)
• perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)
• perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS)
• long-chain perfluorinated carboxylic acids (LC-PFCAs)
• mercury
• polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
• short-chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs)

PCBs and mercury have been long recognized and previously managed as toxic chemicals impacting the Great Lakes. Most of these newly designated chemicals of concern are found in a range of consumer products but are now being detected widely in the Great Lakes ecosystem.

The Canadian Environmental Law Association urges the governments responsible for protecting our Lakes to quickly take the necessary regulatory steps to protect the Great Lakes Basin from these toxic substances by committing to a preventative approach.

"The announcement by both governments is urgently needed," states Fe de Leon, a researcher at the Canadian Environmental Law Association. "A binational commitment to address these chemicals is necessary if we are to ensure the protection of our lakes for future generations."

The Canadian Environmental Law Association recommends that to ensure rapid progress on getting these toxic chemicals out of the Great Lakes, the Parties should now set up a multi-stakeholder Strategies Task Team (STT) with a multi-stakeholder sub-committee for each chemical or class of Chemicals of Mutual Concern to develop action plans with early deadlines.

CELA has a long history of urging that we end the release of toxic chemicals to the Great Lakes; in 2015 we published a roadmap toward elimination of such toxic chemicals and searching for safer alternatives (see http://www.cela.ca/sites/cela.ca/files/GLRoadmap.pdf). CELA also wrote last year, along with our colleagues, to both governments about needed actions on these chemicals (see http://www.cela.ca/sites/cela.ca/files/NGOletterGLECAnnex3recommendations.pdf).

CELA is available to respond to media inquiries related to the US and Canadian government's announcement on the designation harmful chemicals to the Great Lakes.

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For more information please contact:

Joseph Castrilli, Counsel at 416-960-2284 ext 7218
Fe de Leon, Reseacher at 416-960-2284 ext 7223