Great Lakes Still Under Toxic Siege, Banning BFRs and Asbestos, Water Conservation, and more

CELA Bulletin

77: 21-April-2010 Periodic E-News from the Canadian Environmental Law Association

As we mark Earth Day 2010, this issue of the CELA Bulletin confirms the need for continued reforms to address toxic chemicals, conserve water, ban asbestos and to resist the deregulation of environmental laws by federal and provincial governments.

In this issue:

  • Great Lakes Still Under Siege from Toxic Pollution
  • International Campaign to Support Stronger European Controls on Toxic Flame Retardants
  • Shared Experience with Asbestos - India and Canada (May 15th Public Forum)
  • CELA Requests Withdrawal of Controversial EA Changes
  • "Modernizing" Environmental Approvals in Ontario?
  • Ontario Water Conservation Alliance: Public Campaign Launched
  • New Educational Materials: Plastics and Buying Products for the Child Care Centre
  • CPCHE Celebrates Healthy Schools Day
  • Celebrating the First Anniversary of Ontario's Cosmetic Pesticide Ban


Great Lakes Still Under Siege from Toxic Pollution
- New report shows Canadian companies in Great Lakes St. Lawrence River basin produce more cancer-causing air pollution than US counterparts

Canadian companies in the Great Lakes basin reported releasing almost three times more cancer-causing pollutants to the air (on a per facility basis) than companies in the United States, according to a report released today by CELA and Environmental Defence (under the PollutionWatch project) along with Great Lakes-area environmental groups from both sides of the border. A total of four million kilograms of known carcinogens were released to the basin airshed in 2007 by facilities in both countries.

The report relies on pollution data from Canada's National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) and the US Toxic Release Inventory (TRI). The report also notes details of overall emissions to air, water and land. Despite huge volumes of pollution, total figures are less than ten percent of the true emission picture since only large facilities are required to report. Timed to coincide with the re-negotiation of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, this new report underscores the need for greatly renewed attention to toxic pollution in the Great Lakes ecosystem. Highlights of the groups' recommendations include the need for governments in Canada and the US to quantify and annually report pollution loadings, to develop and implement a binational strategy to eliminate and reduce toxic chemicals, to expand and strengthen both national pollution monitoring programs and the role of the International Joint Commission (IJC).
On-line: media release / communiqué de presse; full report / résumé en français.
For more information, or to arrange interviews, please contact:
Fe de Leon, Canadian Environmental Law Association, (416-960-2284 ext. 223; 416-624-6758)
Jennifer Foulds, Environmental Defence, (416-323-9521 ext. 232; 647-280-9521 cell)
John Jackson, Great Lakes United, (519-744-7503)
Michael Murray, National Wildlife Federation (734-887-7110)
Kathleen Schuler, Institute for Agriculture, Trade Policy (612-870-3468)
Lin Kaatz Chary, Great Lakes Green Chemistry Network, (219-380-0209)


International Campaign: Groups Support Revised RoHS Directive to Restrict Chlorinated and Brominated Chemicals in Electronics

CELA has joined dozens or organizations from across Canada, the US and internationally, in a statement calling on European legislators to restrict all chlorinated and brominated chemicals in new electronic products put on the market as of 2014 (see backgrounder prepared by Clean Production Action). In particular, the groups are urging the introduction of EU restrictions on all Brominated Flame Retardants (BFRs) and Polyvinyl Chloride plastic (PVC) in the upcoming revision of the RoHS Directive (the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment).
For more information:

Bev Thorpe, Clean Production Action
At CELA: Kathleen Cooper (705-341-2488; or Fe de Leon (416-960-2284 ext. 223;
On-line collection: PBDEs - Flame Retardants as problematic as PCBs


Learning From Our Shared Experience with Asbestos - India and Canada (May 15th Public Forum)
Canada and India share a terrible experience with asbestos. The peak of death and illness from asbestos is occurring now in Canada but is anticipated for many decades into the future in India due to Canada's appalling policy of allowing this deadly material to be exported despite being now banned in Canada. CELA and the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW) are sponsoring a Public Forum to hear from Dr. Tushar Kant Joshi, an Indian occupational physician and anti-asbestos activist. (more details; On-line collection: Ban Asbestos)

Date: Saturday, May 15th
Time: 1:00 - 3:30 PM
Location: Munk School of Global Affairs, Seminar Room 108 1 Devonshire Place, Toronto, ON

For more information:
Sarah Miller at CELA (416-960-2284 ext. 213;
Alec Farqhaur at OHCOW (416-510-8713 ext. 5;


CELA Requests Harper Government to Withdraw Controversial Environmental Assessment Changes
In late March, the Harper government introduced a massive budget bill (Bill C-9, Jobs and Economic Growth Act), which contains various proposed amendments to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA). Last week, CELA wrote to the Prime Minister to object to the timing, manner and content of the proposed CEAA amendments, and CELA requested the immediate withdrawal of the CEAA amendments from Bill C-9. If enacted, the Bill C-9 amendments would significantly diminish public participation rights, undermine environmental protection, and overturn the recent Supreme Court of Canada judgment in MiningWatch Canada v. Canada (in which CELA intervened).
For more information:
Richard Lindgren, CELA Counsel (613-385-1686;


CELA, Ecojustice and CIELAP Submit Detailed Response to MOE Consultation on Modernizing Environmental Approvals
The Ontario government "Open for Business" strategy includes proposals to create a two-tiered environmental approvals regime. The Ministry of Environment's current approval system requires a Certificate of Approval for activities such as establishing landfills, storing, transporting or disposing of waste or emitting contaminants into the atmosphere, ground or surface. Under the MOE's Modernizing Environmmental Approvals approach, only complex, higher-risk operations would continue to be required to obtain a Certificate of Approval (C of A). The "lower-risk operations" that currently are required to apply for C of As, would follow a "permit by rule" approach; if they follow the rules, the C of A is automatic, without Environment Ministry review. For these individual registrations, there would no longer be a requirement for posting on the Environmental Bill of Rights Registry and they would not be subject to appeals by third parties.

In response, CELA, Ecojustice and CIELAP have stated their fundamental opposition to the permit-by-rule approach noting that the MOE has not provided a sound or compelling rationale for this approach. The groups have prepared a detailed response to the consultation, including 32 recommendations. They spell out the need for continued operation and improvement of Ontario's environmental approvals process including the need for better monitoring of environmental impacts of operations with C of As including whether or not they are in compliance. As well, the province needs to assess the cumulative impacts of all operations with C of As in the Province. The groups recognize that some recent improvements in public access to information have occurred under the Modernizing Environmental Approvals approach, such as the ability to search all C of As on-line. Nevertheless, they believe a permit-by-rule approach is unwarranted and a drastic rollback of public participation rights in the government's environmental decision-making process.
For more information:
Ramani Nadarajah, CELA Counsel (416-960-2284 ext. 217;


Ontario Water Conservation Alliance Launches Public Campaign to Promote Conservation Path for New Ontario Law
Seeking a strong conservation path in Ontario's proposed Water Opportunities Act, environment, labour, industry and community groups and individuals have formed the Ontario Water Conservation Alliance (membership list). In an April 14th media release, the new Alliance set out a platform built around the three themes of: 1) setting meaningful targets and measuring performance, 2) requiring conservation plans, establishing efficiency standards and supporting green infrastructure, and 3) Fostering market transformation and a culture of conservation.
For more information:
Theresa McClenaghan, CELA Executive Director (416-960-2284 ext. 219;
Carol Maas Innovation and Technology Director POLIS Water Sustainability Project (519.749.0247;


Children's Health Partnership Releases New Fact Sheets on Plastics and Child Care Procurement and Celebrates Healthy Schools Day
The Canadian Partnership for Children's Health and Environment (CPCHE) has added two new fact sheets, on plastics and buying products for the child care centre, to CPCHE's existing collection of bilingual fact sheets on a range of topics. As well, the Resources for the Child Care Sector collection is updated with recent teleconference briefings on topics related to CPCHE's January, 2010 publication "Advancing Environmental Health in Child Care Settings" created by and for child care practitioners and public health inspectors (aussi disponible en français).

CPCHE also joins CASLE (Canadians for a Safe Learning Environment) in celebrating the second annual national Healthy Schools Day.
For more information:
Kathleen Cooper, Senior Researcher (705-341-2488;
Erica Phipps, CPCHE Partnership Director (212-874-0257;


Earth Day Marks the 1st Anniversary of Ontario's Cosmetic Pesticide Ban
CELA joins our colleagues in the public health, medical and environmental community and the Ontario Ministry of Environment in celebrating the anniversary of Ontario's ban on the cosmetic use of pesticides. Ontario's leadership on this issue remains outstanding with the most comprehensive legislation in North America. As the Ontario government also marks this anniversary, they report that the Cosmetic Use Pesticide Research and Innovation Program has invested approximately $500,000 over the past year into the development of alternative products and practices. CELA has recently responded to consultations about controls on cosmetic pesticide use in British Columbia and Nova Scotia seeking pesticide bans as strong Ontario's. Earlier this month, CELA Executive Director Theresa McClenaghan and Ontario College of Family Physicians CEO Jan Kasperski, told the Ontario story to the Beyond Pesticides 28th National Pesticide Forum in Ohio. Our US colleagues consider this work heroic and inspiring.
On-line collection: Banning Cosmetic Pesticide Use
For more information:
Theresa McClenaghan, CELA Executive Director (416-960-2284 ext. 219;
Kathleen Cooper, Senior Researcher (705-341-2488;

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