June 2017 Bulletin

(Photo credit: Kim Lalone)

News & Activities

OPG fails to make the case for nuclear waste burial, again

The Ontario Power Generation (OPG) has failed to make a convincing case supporting its proposal to bury radioactive waste on the shore of Lake Huron, say citizens groups. The groups also say that the federal review agency is failing to do its job by omitting public participation from the review of OPG’s newest report. “Public participation is a fundamental in environmental assessment in Canada,” explains Theresa McClenaghan, CELA’s executive director and senior counsel.

Point Lepreau’s Nuclear Emergency Response Plan review

On June 15, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission released its Summary Record of Decision granting the re-licensing of the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station. The Commission stated it was “satisfied that NB Power has appropriate emergency plans in place to protect the health and safety of persons and the environment” but noted there was a “lack of transparency and public availability of emergency planning documents.” CELA is awaiting news from New Brunswick’s Emergency Measures Organization after it announced in an email to CELA that it would publicly review its emergency response plan this summer. As CELA raised during the hearing, the New Brunswick offsite plan has not yet benefited from an open and public review and the release of the plan this summer could provide this opportunity.

Nuclear disaster plans overlook Durham’s unique challenges

Along with Greenpeace and Durham Nuclear Awareness, CELA issued a media release warning that residents of Ontario’s Durham region could be left vulnerable in the event of a nuclear reactor accident. We also called for significant improvements to the provincial government’s proposed revisions of its nuclear emergency plans. We are concerned about a recent Ontario government discussion paper that recommends against strengthening public safety and nuclear emergency preparedness in response to the Fukushima disaster. The media release garnered coverage on CTV and other media.

Nuclear disaster threat to Windsor Essex overlooked by Province

CELA joined forces with with Greenpeace and Citizens Environment Alliance to issue a media release to raise awareness among residents of Windsor and Essex County, who live within 100 kilometers of the Michigan-based Fermi and Ohio-based Davis-Besse nuclear stations and could be harmed in the event of a major nuclear accident. We are asking the province to prepare for worst-case accidents, expand emergency preparedness zones, meet international best practices for emergency response, and establish new measures to protect drinking water in the event of a nuclear accident. The release was covered by media such as CBC, CTV, and others.


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

Improving the proposed Lake Erie action plan

CELA co-leads the Great Lakes Protection Act Alliance with Environmental Defence Canada. Earlier this month, we made several suggestions that would strengthen a proposed draft action plan to reduce phosphorus loading in Lake Erie by up to 40 per cent. We suggested including specific actions and objectives, measurable results, clear timelines and deadlines, accountability, and ongoing public engagement. As the draft action plan also serves to fulfill obligations under the Canada-Ontario Agreement on Great Lakes Water Quality and Ecosystem Health, CELA also signed on with the Lake Erie Collective, which has made its comments available for review as well.

Clean-up Costs for the Chalk River Laboratories

CELA, together with the Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area (CCRA), recently petitioned the Office of the Auditor General of Canada, seeking responses from Natural Resources Canada regarding the Government of Canada’s nuclear legacy liabilities. Our petition is specifically interested in funding amounts for decommissioning, remediation, and waste management activities addressing these liabilities and whether financing is being appropriately allocated towards safely and efficiently reducing the health and environmental risks from Canada’s nuclear legacy liabilities. You can read our media release here.


Helping to modernize the National Energy Board

CELA and Environmental Defence Canada submitted joint comments to the Expert Panel on the modernization of the National Energy Board (NEB). Our recommendations included allowing Cabinet the right to appeal, preventing the NEB from retaining authority for conducting EAs, making sure projects will be rejected if they fail the climate test as well as other ‘dealbreakers’ such as Indigenous reconciliation, and that the Expert Panel’s vision for a modern regulatory system aligned with energy, economic, social, and environmental policy objectives is in place before any Ministry or Cabinet is given the authority to make a determination of national interest.

Raising concerns about CNL’s Near Surface Disposal Facility

CELA made a submission to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Near Surface Disposal Facility Project submitted by Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL). We examined the proposed project in conjunction with the requirements of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and raised several concerns.

Commenting on the Energy East Pipeline

CELA represented Environmental Defence Canada in making comments to the National Energy Board regarding the Energy East Pipeline. We raised several issues with the project, including its potential GHG emissions, potential environmental and socio-economic effects of power lines, and potential effects to marine shipping.


(Photo Credit: Dominic Ali/CELA)

Canada’s potential free trade agreement with China

CELA made a submission to Global Affairs Canada on the potential free trade agreement with China. Our six-page submission called on Global Affairs to champion several items in its negotiations such as the ability of our domestic court system to provide sound and equitable judicial dispute resolution, having public services which are responsive to the health and environmental needs of Canadians, and promoting action on climate change, environmental protection, and sustainable development.

Strengthening Canada’s proposed asbestos ban

CELA joined over 50 organizations and individuals in submitting comments and recommendations to the Ministers of Environment and Climate Change, Health, and Science in support of banning asbestos in Canada. Proposed regulationswould prohibit the import, use, sale or offer for sale of asbestos; the manufacture, use, sale, offer for sale or import of products containing asbestos; and the use of mining residues for construction and landscaping. Our combined recommendations would significantly strengthen the application of the proposed regulations.

Next Steps in Federal EA Reform

CELA recently joined other groups, academics, and practitioners at the three-day “EA Summit II” held in Ottawa. Organized by West Coast Environmental Law, the Summit featured detailed discussions on implementing the broad vision for EA reform recommended earlier this year by the federally appointed Expert Panel. It is anticipated that the federal government will soon release a discussion paper to solicit further public input on potential directions for legislative change in order to ensure a fair, robust, and science-based impact assessment process at the national level.

On the CELA blog


Canada’s e-RISK radon tool

The CAREX (CARcinogen EXposure) research project combines academic expertise and government resources to generate an evidence-based carcinogen surveillance program for Canada. CAREX has updated its e-RISK interactive tool that lets users explore the excess cancer risk associated with exposures to carcinogens in the environment. CELA’s senior researcher Kathleen Cooper explains why you should try out the tool.

Major reform of Parliament’s control of toxic substances needed

The House Standing Environment Committee recently issued a 162-page report containing recommendations for Parliament that would strengthen laws on toxic substances under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. The recommendations would help Canada move closer to enshrining environmental rights, substituting safer alternatives, and strengthening protection of vulnerable populations in the regulation of toxic substances. CELA counsel Joseph Castrilli and researcher Fe de Leon explain.

Hefty new water charge for bottled water starts in August

On August 1, 2017, bottled water facilities will pay a significantly higher fee – going from $3.71 to $503.71 per million litres – for the water they pump from Ontario’s groundwater sources. CELA’s special projects counsel with the Healthy Great Lakes program Anastasia Lintner explains why Canadians should be disappointed by the lack of progress toward expanding the water charges program.

Is Energy East a bad deal for Canadians?

The proposed TransCanada Energy East pipeline project would stretch 4,600 km across Canada, and have a functional capacity of over one million barrels per day. What does the proposed Energy East pipeline project mean to Canada? CELA’s summer student Michael Lucifora finds out.

A call for Canadian leadership on business and human rights

Does Canada do enough to prevent business-related human rights abuses before they occur? Karyn Keenan, Director of Above Ground (Canada), weighs in on this important issue.