May 2017 Bulletin

Kerrie Pickering (Ontario Nurses for the Environment Interest Group of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario), Shawn-Patrick
Stensil (Senior Energy Analyst, Greenpeace), and Theresa McClenaghan (Executive Director, CELA) spoke at a press conference on
May 18 to raise attention about Ontario’s poor nuclear emergency plans.

News & Activities

Ontario unprepared for nuclear emergency on Great lakes

Along with more than 40 public interest organizations, CELA called on the Ontario government to improve the province’s nuclear emergency plans. Current emergency plans fail to consider large-scale evacuations in the Greater Toronto Area, alternative sources of drinking water if the Great Lakes are contaminated, and support for vulnerable communities following a large-scale accident. CELA’s executive director Theresa McClenaghan took part in a press conference with representatives from Greenpeace and the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario. “Planning for worst-case scenarios is essential to responsible emergency planning and achieving the safety of people and families. We urge Premier Wynne to put in place robust and world-class nuclear emergency response plans that protect us all,” said McClenaghan. Our media release garnered coverage in the Toronto StarGlobal News, and CTV. The groups also issued a scorecard on Ontario’s nuclear emergency review.

Improving emergency planning at the Point Lepreau nuclear station

CELA’s junior counsel Kerrie Blaise presented several recommendations to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission aimed at improving emergency planning during the four-day Point Lepreau relicensing hearing which took place in Saint John earlier this month. (We expect to hear the Commission’s final decision on the hearing in the coming months.) At the hearing, New Brunswick’s Emergency Measures Organization (EMO) announced that a new, revised emergency response plan for Point Lepreau would be released May 18, 2017. However, the plan was withheld from the public. In response to CELA’s request that the plan be made publicly available, the EMO has committed to providing a public review of the plan this summer.

Protecting the ecological health of the Great Lakes

CELA is a member of the Great Lakes Protection Act Alliance, which recently released a report on ways to implement the Act. We called for several items, such as establishing an innovative community and public engagement model to ensure the Act’s core purposes are achieved by 2017, initiating new targets and associated action plans to address specific issues by 2018, and continuing to complete and expand work on addressing algal blooms by 2018, among others.

(Photo credit: Dominic Ali/CELA)

Making a submission on CETA’s impact in Canada

CELA made a submission to the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade about the Bill C-30 Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union. Since its 2016 inception, we have provided substantive commentary on CETA’s implications on sustainable development and environmental protection in Canada. We pointed out that once ratified, CETA’s investment court system will restrict Canada’s sovereignty and minimize the functioning of our democratic governance and law-making powers.

Renewing Canada’s commitment to banning toxic chemicals

CELA issued a media release expressing our concern that the federal government’s stated commitment for a global phase-out of the toxic chemicals pentabromodiphenyl ether (PentaBDE) and octabromodiphenyl ether (OctaBDE) is being undermined by its support for a recycling exemption in an international treaty. Decisions about implementation of the treaty, the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), were recently debated in Geneva, Switzerland.

Developing Canadian formaldehyde regulations

CELA provided comments on the federal government’s notice of intent to develop regulations regarding formaldehyde. Formaldehyde has been listed toxic under Schedule 1 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, and there are a range of health impacts associated with various levels of exposure such as irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, to worsening asthma symptoms, to causing respiratory symptoms and allergic sensitivity in children. Our submission included seven recommendations including requiring regulations on formaldehyde in wood products, adopting stringent regulatory measures similar to the U.S. emission measures on formaldehyde, keeping strict timelines that prevent Canada from being a recipient for products that are in non-compliance in the U.S., and developing a comprehensive regulatory strategy to phase out formaldehyde from all industrial and consumer applications.

(Photo credit: Dominic Ali/CELA)

Strengthening aggregate fees and royalties

Along with Ontario Nature and Environmental Defence, CELA made a submission on proposed changes to Regulation 244/97 (under the Aggregate Resources Act) regarding aggregate fees and royalties. We made several recommendations such as increasing the fees to address identified shortfalls in inspection and enforcement, regularly reviewing the adequacy of the fees, and ensuring that the proportion of the fees allocated to the Aggregate Resources Trust supports the rehabilitation of abandoned pits and quarries in a reasonable time frame.

Supporting Oxford County’s embrace of renewables

CELA joined other environmental organizations in asking Ontario’s Minister of Energy to recognize and support Oxford County’s commitment to fight climate change by going 100 per cent renewable in the next Long-Term Energy Plan. We specifically requested that the Minister instruct the Ontario Energy Board and Hydro-One to support Oxford County’s proposed Virtual Net Metering demonstration project.

Real-time sewer overflows now being reported in Kingston

Earlier this month, Utilities Kingston launched its real-time sewer overflows monitoring system on their Know Before You Go website. As with other older cities on the Great Lakes, Kingston has infrastructure that combines stormwater with sewage. During very wet weather, diluted sewage overflows (combined sewer overflows or CSOs) into our waterways, making the area unsuitable for recreational uses for 48 hours. With this notification system, Kingston residents will be able to determine whether waters are safe with just a click of a computer mouse. Although this doesn’t solve the CSO problem, it is an innovative model for ensuring accountability and transparency that all Great Lakes cities may adopt in the future.

(Photo Credit: Dominic Ali/CELA)

Response to TransformTO Report #2

CELA joined more than 35 organizations in urging Toronto Mayor John Tory and Toronto City Councillors to adopt and fully implement TransformTO Report #2 – The Pathway to a Low Carbon Future which was discussed at City Council earlier this month. This climate action plan has the potential to generate multiple benefits for all Torontonians, such as making life more affordable, creating jobs and much-needed local economic activity, improving public health, reducing poverty, and keeping Toronto competitive as a global city.

Strengthening the proposed dry cleaning solvent disclosure program

[There was an inaccurate post in last month’s Bulletin. Here’s the corrected version.]
CELA responded to Toronto Public Health’s proposal for a point of sale display program for dry cleaners. The proposal builds on the City’s Environmental Reporting and Disclosure Bylaw and is aimed at informing the public about the potential chemicals that they are exposed to from dry cleaning. We made several suggestions that would strengthen the proposal, such as ensuring the signage program is adequately resourced for enforcement and compliance, and promoting the use of “wet cleaning” as an environmentally friendly option. CELA also recommended delisting “carbon dioxide” as a green option for drycleaning.

On the CELA blog


Communication is needed when responding to radon levels in schools

An unfortunate response to an elevated radon level in a Kanata, Ontario, elementary school this week demonstrates the importance of good communication in analyzing the risk of radon and how to respond to elevated test results. CELA senior researcher Kathleen Cooper explains.