BPA Statement released at WHO-FAO meeting in Ottawa; updates on Richmond landfill, toxic substances, energy solutions

CELA Bulletin

79:  1-November-2010

Periodic E-News from the Canadian Environmental Law Association

In this issue:

  • Health and Environmental Groups Call on Government to Eliminate Public Exposure to BPA
  • Richmond Landfill Update: Expert Raises Leachate Contamination Concerns
  • Making the Links Project Running Workshops in Ontario Communities
  • Good News on Banning Toxic Flame Retardants
  • Integrated Community Energy Solutions - Innovative and Practical Municipal Policy Tool Kit Released
  • CELA's Ongoing Work in Response to the Chemicals Management Plan and the Stockholm Convention on POPs
  • Green Energy Upgrade Protects Ontarians from Rising Nuclear Costs
  • CELA to Celebrate 40th Anniversary on November 25th

Major health and environment organizations call on government to eliminate public exposure to Bisphenol A
At an international meeting beginning today in Ottawa to discuss the scientific evidence about low-dose exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA), health and environmental groups will table a joint statement calling for precautionary action (see also Nov 1 Media Release). The statement summarizes the scientific evidence of links between low dose exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA) and cancer, diabetes, obesity, and adverse effects on reproduction and brain development. The signatory organizations acknowledge that scientific proof of harm from BPA is not available but consider the risks too serious to allow widespread exposure to continue in order to find out. They also acknowledge that Canada's designation of BPA as toxic under federal law is a good first step but that more action is needed especially to reduce exposures that matter the most - in the womb. In five recommendations, the statement calls for an end to all food- and beverage-related uses of BPA as well as legislative reforms to improve the testing and regulation of endocrine-disrupting substances and to require disclosure of known endocrine disruptors on product labels.
For more information:
Kathleen Cooper, Senior Researcher 705-341-2488 (in Ottawa on November 1st) kcooper@cela.ca
Dr. Lynn Marshall, President, Environmental Health Institute of Canada, (905) 845-3462; (416) 526-4576
Erica Phipps, Partnership Director, Canadian Partnership for Children's Health and Environment, (212) 874-0257
On-line collection of resources about BPA health risks and choosing safer alternatives.

Richmond Landfill Update: Expert Raises Leachate Contamination Concerns
A hydrogeologist retained by CELA's clients has identified concerns about leachate impacts on groundwater and surface water at the Richmond Landfill near Napanee, Ontario. (See October 19th Media Release.)  These impacts are described in a detailed critique of the proponent's recently filed Environmental Monitoring Plan for the Richmond Landfill.   In the meantime, CELA's clients continue to wait for the Ministry of the Environment's decision regarding the environmental assessment process for a new mega-landfill proposed by the proponent on lands beside the Richmond Landfill (see July 14th Media Release).  A previous proposal by the proponent to expand the Richmond Landfill was rejected by the MOE in 2006 for environmental reasons.
For more information:
Richard Lindgren, CELA Counsel 613-385-1686; r.lindgren@sympatico.ca
on-line collection: Richmond Landfill - Upholding Ontario's Environmental Assessment Process

Making the Links Project Running Workshops in Ontario Communities
The Making the Links project has a busy fall schedule of workshops starting in Hamilton on November 2nd, Windsor on November 10th, Brantford on November 17th, Sarnia on November 18th, Cornwall on November 23rd and Kenora on December 6th.  These unique events provide opportunities for medical professionals, legal professionals, community service providers, and community activists to explore the intersection between environmental health and law and to work collaboratively. The Making the Links Project is an interdisciplinary outreach program being undertaken with funding from the Law Foundation of Ontario. It is focused on environmental law and access to justice issues in six Ontario communities, chosen, in part, because of the presence of high pollution burdens and incidences of environmental health issues, and high percentages of sensitive populations.
For more information:
Renee Griffin, Counsel 416-960-2284 ext 212, rgriffin@cela.ca

Good News on Banning Toxic Flame Retardants
In September, environmentalists welcomed a new federal strategy to apply a comprehensive ban of toxic polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PDBEs), common flame retardant used in consumer products (Sept 2 Media Release). In 2007, led by Ecojustice and alongside the David Suzuki Foundation and Environmental Defence, CELA filed a formal Notice of Objection (NOO) to federal toxic regulations that banned only two out of three PBDE mixtures while exempting the most widely used form, known as DecaBDE. The groups' objection argued that the government’s assessment of DecaBDE was based on outdated science. The NOO prompted an updated review by Environment Canada in turn resulting in a revised PBDE strategy to match European restrictions on DecaBDE in electronics and proposals to also ban remaining uses of PBDEs in plastics and textiles. Although very welcome, it has taken three years to get to this point and actual regulations will not be enacted for several years yet. But, once implemented it will be a full ban on the use of these highly toxic substances in both domestic and imported products. The challenge ahead is to ensure that PBDEs are replaced by inherently safer products and processes.  They will also be a toxic legacy for many years, even decades in to the future. PBDE contamination of house dust arises from many products, especially durable goods like electronics and furniture. This reality needs to be incorporated into environmental health educational work and is of particular concern under low income circumstances.
For more information: Kathleen Cooper, Senior Researcher 705-341-2488
On-line collections about PBDEs: CELA website; CPCHE website

Integrated Community Energy Solutions (ICES) - Innovative and Practical Municipal Policy Tool Kit Released
With urban areas accounting for about 40 percent of Canada’s energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, and with that percentage expected to rise quickly alongside more urbanization and population growth, opportunities abound within Integrated Community Energy Solutions (ICES). CELA recently collaborated with the Ontario Power Authority, the Canadian Urban Institute and Quality Urban Energy Systems of Tomorrow (QUEST) to create an innovative ICES municipal policy toolkit that taps into cross-sectoral opportunities in the areas of land use, infrastructure, building, water and sanitation, transportation, and waste. The goal of ICES is to curb energy demand and reduce the associated environmental impacts, while increasing energy security, enhancing the quality of life and realizing financial benefits for Canadians. While recognizing that multiple factors influence the choices made about energy consumption and emissions reductions, key among these are government policy choices at the provincial and local level that shape community development and directly influence energy use. The ICES toolkit contains seventeen case studies from communities across Canada and abroad providing best practice examples of policies ranging from ‘first-step’ actions to more ambitious and comprehensive emissions reductions measures. Grouped in six broad categories, the case studies show where ICES actions can be achieved in land use, transportation, buildings, infrastructure, waste, and water. Each case study also notes details for policy application in the Ontario context.
For more information: Theresa McClenaghan, Executive Director and Counsel 416-960-2284 ext 219 / 416-662-8341
Get the ICES Tool Kit on-line

CELA's Ongoing Work in Response to the Chemicals Management Plan and Stockholm Convention on POPs
Since our last e-Bulletin, CELA has worked, often in collaboration with Chemical Sensitivities Manitoba and other ENGOs, in preparing numerous submissions in response to regulatory and policy proposals and draft assessment documents issued under the federal government's Chemicals Management Plan or with respect to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). These submissions have included comments on:

For more information:
Fe de Leon, Researcher 416-960-2284 ext 223
On-line collections: Chemicals Management in Canada; Persistent Organic Pollutants

Green Energy Upgrade Would Protect Ontarians from Rising Nuclear Costs
This past summer, the Renewable is Doable coalition, of which CELA is a member, issued a report describing how Ontario can choose to scale up green energy to replace the retiring Pickering nuclear station as a more affordable option for Ontarians than buying expensive replacement reactors. In the summer of 2009, Ontario suspended its purchase of two new replacement reactors when their cost reportedly topped $26 billion - $20 billion more than expected in 2007. The Renewable is Doable analysis shows that a mix of green energy technologies and conservation acquired through the government’s Green Energy Act would be 12 to 48 per cent cheaper than buying new reactors to replace the aging Pickering nuclear station, which is set to close in 2020 due to high maintenance costs.
For more information:
Theresa McClenaghan, Executive Director and Counsel 416-960-2284 ext. 219 theresa@cela.ca
August 10/10 Media Release; Full Report

CELA to Celebrate 40th Anniversary on November 25th
Please join friends and colleagues in celebrating CELA's 40 years of public interest advocacy.
When: Thursday, November 25th 6:30 - 8:30 P.M.
Where: Debates Room, Hart House, University of Toronto 7 Hart House Circle Toronto
     Open door reception 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
     Program and remarks at 7:00 p.m.
     Live jazz piano, Hors d’oeuvres & cash bar
to Leah Harms 416-323-1873 ext. 210, leah@cela.ca
Please download invitation for more details.