July 2017 Bulletin

(Photo credit: Kathleen Cooper/CELA)

News & Activities

Auditor-General petitioned to probe origins of radioactive landfill

A proposed radioactive landfill known as the “Near Surface Disposal Facility” beside the Ottawa River, is being fast tracked for approval in Québec and Ontario, despite the fact that it doesn’t meet safety standards established by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Critics of the plan include citizens’ groups, business owners, and retired scientists from Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL). Concerned citizens’ groups sent a petition to federal environment commissioner Julie Gelfand with the Office of the Auditor-General, seeking her help in exploring the origins of the radioactive waste dump proposal. The project’s environmental impact statement was released in March 2017.

Reviewing Canada’s nuclear preparedness and response plans

CELA provided comments in a 28-page report to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) in response to its Regulatory Oversight Report for Canadian Nuclear Power Plants: 2016. Our report reviewed 79 recommendations we previously made to the CNSC during its most recent round of licensing hearings for four nuclear power plants in Pickering, Darlington, Bruce, and Point Lepreau. We reviewed each of the CNSC’s licensing decisions and each power plant’s Licence Conditions Handbook to see if–or to what extent–our 79 recommendations had been addressed. We found that the CNSC’s oversight of emergency preparedness and planning is not transparent. In most instances, CELA was unable to trace what action has been made outside of the licensing decisions or Licence Conditions Handbooks. We are concerned that the CNSC has not adequately assumed oversight of offsite nuclear emergency planning.

Commenting on the potential NAFTA renegotiation

CELA submitted comments to Global Affairs Canada on the potential renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with the United States and Mexico. The expansion of international trade regimes has made it increasingly difficult for countries to develop new and progressive laws and policies. Our recommendations included strengthening the agreement to include environmental protection and sustainable development, explicitly including occupational health, official recognition of Aboriginal and treaty rights, and ensuring Canada’s different levels of government are allowed to provide or regulate public services. We are especially concerned with the current investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism that impedes the ability of sovereign governments to make decisions in the public interest. ISDS provisions have been used by foreign investors to challenge legitimate governmental decisions and regulations. Since NAFTA came into force in 1994, Canada has either lost or settled eight cases and paid $215 million in compensation.


(Photo credit: NASA image by Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, Goddard Space Flight Center/Flickr)

CELA issues report on the People’s Great Lakes Summit

In May 2017, CELA hosted a gathering of 40 Ontario individuals concerned about freshwater health in the Great Lakes – St Lawrence River Basin. An astonishing three out of four of Ontario’s Great Lakes are in decline. We issued this reporton how citizens can advocate for more protection of our waters.

Recommendations to modernize the Fisheries Act

CELA joined over 20 leading environmental organizations in releasing a briefing note outlining recommendations to strengthen a new Fisheries Act that would sustain healthy fisheries for the future. The Fisheries Act is Canada’s oldest environmental legislation. Our recommendations included making sustainability the foundation of the legislation, restoring and strengthening habitat protections, and many others.

Briefing MOECC on upcoming stormwater management manual

CELA and the Green Infrastructure Ontario Coalition prepared a brief for the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change on the damaging environmental impacts of urbanization and stormwater. The government plans on remedying the damage by developing a low impact development stormwater management guidance manual. We offered to help MOECC develop the guidelines and ensure the manual minimizes runoff and runoff pollution by managing rain where it falls.


(Photo credit: Dominic Ali/CELA)

Calling for the adoption of TransformTO

The City of Toronto recently adopted its TransformTO plan to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. CELA joined more than 40 organizations in calling on Toronto City Councillors to adopt and ensure that the City would fund the initial $6.7 million for the project.

Concerned Citizens of Brant hearing takes place

CELA represented the Concerned Citizens of Brant (CCOB) in a recent hearing before the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) about a proposed gravel pit operation in Paris, Ontario. The CCOB is concerned that the herbicide atrazine, which had been previously used at the site, would result in groundwater contamination from 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. The ERT did not adopt CCOB’s concerns and, as a result, CCOB appealed the ERT decision to the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change.


(Photo credit: Dominic Ali/CELA)

BLOG: Herb Needleman – a public health hero

CELA’s Kathleen Cooper remembers Dr. Herbert Needleman, who recently passed away. Dr. Needleman was among the first of a long line of medical and public health experts who revealed the dangers of very low level lead exposure in children. Initially criticized and maligned, even by his own colleagues and especially by the lead industry, Needleman’s work was instrumental in the passage of many laws and regulations worldwide to control lead in the environment and consumer products. His life and work was an inspiration and exemplified the best in public health, environmental, and social justice.

Lawyers practising environmental law in Ontario

As a public service, each year CELA updates our list of lawyers practising environmental law in Ontario. (Inclusion on this list does not imply CELA’s endorsement or recommendation of these firms’ services.) Others wishing to be included on future editions of this list are invited to contact us by e-mailing admin@cela.ca.

CELA email phished…please proceed with caution!

Earlier this month there was a phishing attempt from someone using a fake CELA email account to distribute potentially malicious software. Please don’t open any suspicious attachments or emails claiming to be from CELA without calling the sender first. We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused our subscribers, and have taken steps to increase our computer security.