Court Victory Forces Canada to Report Pollution Data for Mines

For Immediate Release

EcoJustice
Contact: 

Justin Duncan, Ecojustice (416) 573-4258 (cell)
Marlene Cashin, Ecojustice (416) 368-7533 ext. 31
John Jackson, Great Lakes United, (519) 744-7503
Jamie Kneen, MiningWatch Canada (613) 761-2273 (cell)

Court Victory Forces Canada to Report Pollution Data for Mines

TORONTO - Great Lakes United,
Mining Watch Canada and Ecojustice are hailing a landmark decision from the
Federal Court of Canada released late yesterday that will force the federal
government to stop withholding data on one of Canada's largest sources of
pollution - millions of tonnes of toxic mine tailings and waste rock from mining
operations throughout the country.

 
The Federal Court sided with the
groups and issued an Order demanding that the federal government immediately
begin publicly reporting mining pollution data from 2006 onward to the National
Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI). The strongly worded decision describes the
government's pace as "glacial" and chastises the government for turning a "blind
eye" to the issue and dragging its feet for "more than 16 years".
 
"This is a huge decision for
environmental justice in Canada," said Ecojustice lawyer Justin Duncan. Fellow
lawyer Marlene Cashin added, "The court has unequivocally upheld the right of
Canadians to know when the health of their communities and the environment is
under threat from one of the country's largest sources of toxic pollution."
 
The lawsuit was filed in Federal
Court in 2007 on behalf of MiningWatch Canada and Great Lakes United by
Ecojustice (formerly Sierra Legal Defence Fund). The lawsuit alleged that the
Minister of Environment broke the law when he failed to collect and report this
pollution information from mines in Canada under the NPRI.
"This is a victory that should be
celebrated from Smithers to  Voisey's Bay," said MiningWatch Canada
spokesman Jamie Kneen. "The public has a right to know what kind of toxic
liabilities are being created every day. It's always been bizarre to us that the
mining industry should not face the same reporting requirements as every other
industrial sector, and we're pleased that the Court agreed with us."
In stark contrast, since 1998,
the U.S. government has required mining companies to report all pollutants under
the American equivalent of the NPRI, the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI). In
2005, the 72 mines reporting to the TRI released more than 500 million kilograms
of mine tailings and waste rock - accounting for 27% of all U.S. pollutants
reported. With yesterday's court decision, pollution data from Canada's 80 metal
mining facilities will now similarly have to be reported under the NPRI.
 
"Canadians living in places like
Sudbury, with mining operations in their backyards, were blindfolded while
millions of kilograms of carcinogens and heavy metals accumulated in tailings
ponds and waste rock piles across the country," said John Jackson of Great Lakes
United. "With this decision, the blindfold comes off and citizens can truly hold
these companies to account for their pollution and the environmental and health
dangers they pose."
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