MASSE WRITES FEDERAL ENVIRONMENT MINISTER: PROTECT LAKE ONTARIO AND THE NIAGARA RIVER FROM U.S. TOXIC WASTE DUMPING

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                   OCTOBER 10, 2014

MASSE WRITES FEDERAL ENVIRONMENT MINISTER: PROTECT LAKE ONTARIO AND THE NIAGARA RIVER FROM U.S. TOXIC WASTE DUMPING

OTTAWA – Official Opposition Great Lakes and Canada US Border Critic Brian Masse wrote to the Minister of Environment, Leona Aglukkaq, requesting information on what the Government of Canada is doing to stop the US Chemical Plant CWM from dumping further toxic waste in the Niagara River only five kilometres from the Canadian border.

Masse asked the Minister to identify what Canada is doing to monitor the situation and whether she, or the Harper Government, has discussed the file with US leaders.

At issue is a United States company, CWM Chemical Services LLC in Youngstown, New York, who is trying to expand their landfill only five kilometres from the Canadian border.   This company legally, under US permit, dumps their diluted toxic chemicals including PCBs into the Niagara River.

The letter and a newsarticle on the issue are attached.

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For more information: Darlene Dunn Mahler 519-255-1631

 

October 9, 2014

 Honourable Leona Aglukkaq

Minister of Environment

House of Commons

Ottawa, ON     K1A 0A6

 

 Dear Minister Aglukkaq,

 I am writing today to voice my concern over the New York State landfill, owned by CWM Chemical Services LLC, and who is currently seeking a permit to expand their landfill in Youngstown, New York. 

 A recent opinion piece in the Toronto Star has shared the concerns of residents wherein the dumping of toxic chemicals and expansion of the landfill is within five kilometres of the Canadian border and that the toxic chemicals from the landfill site are very likely already polluting the Niagara River and Lake Ontario.  It is also clear that the International Joint Commission has listed this as an official area of “concern.” 

 To date, there is a federal US permit granted to this company to legally dump these chemicals into the Niagara River annually if the company dilutes the toxic materials.  If this is not concerning enough, the US Superfund that was designed to clean up America’s worst toxic waste sites has pulled out of the region saying the work is complete.  And yet from what I understand CWM continues to dump legally under the federal permit.

 Could you please explain what the Canadian federal government has been doing to monitor this situation with regard to protecting our lakes and rivers on this side of the border and please identify whether you have had any discussions with American leaders on this file.  If not, are there any plans in place for near future discussions over protecting these waterways for Canadians?

 Thank you kindly in advance for your time and attention to this matter.  Please do not hesitate to contact me directly with any questions or concerns that you might have on this issue.  I have included the Toronto Star piece for your information.  I look forward to your response.

 Yours truly,

                       

Brian Masse MP
Windsor West

Official Opposition Canada-US Border Critic and Great Lakes Critic

 CC:

 Ambassador Gary Doer – Canadian Ambassador to the United States

Ambassador Bruce Heyman – US Ambassador to Canada

Megan Leslie MP (Halifax) – Official Opposition Critic Environment          

Craig Scott MP (Toronto-Danforth)

Clyde Burmaster, Vice Chair of the Niagara County Legislature

Gary Burroughs, Niagara Regional Chair

Percy Hatfield MPP (Windsor-Tecumseh) – Ontario NDP Environment Critic

 

Attach. (1)

 Toxic waste dumped into Niagara River a threat to Lake Ontario

Dump in Youngstown, N.Y., now being considered for expansion has been taking in toxic waste since 2001.

 

BY :David Israelson Published on Sat Sep 20 2014

 

 

NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE–Remember the Love Canal ? Just up the road from that notorious toxic neighbourhood in New York state, there’s a new plan to dump more poisonous waste right near Lake Ontario and on an earthquake fault line.

New York state officials are now considering whether to permit a company called CWM Chemical Services LLC to expand its landfill in Youngstown, N.Y., perilously close to the Canadian border — and our shared water.

Do we ever learn? The site is less than five kilometres from the Niagara River, already filled with so many chemicals that it’s listed as an official area of concern by the International Joint Commission that oversees shared Canada-U.S. waters.

Even more concerning for Canadians is that at least once a year, under U.S. permit, the existing New York-side landfill is allowed to dilute the cancer-linked PCBs and other materials it collects and discharge its nasty water into the Niagara River.

We ought to know better

On both sides of the border all of us ought to know better by now.

This landfill expansion scheme is unfolding nearly two generations after environmentalists took to the street, in Canada and around the world, chanting: “Dilution is not the solution to pollution.” They were right then and it’s still true.

We can’t just make toxic waste go away, no matter how much we wish we could. The nearby Love Canal neighbourhood, which was evacuated and bulldozed due to pollution, led to the creation of the U.S. Superfund program , designed to contain and clean up America’s worst toxic waste sites.

There was a Superfund cleanup at the Love Canal. But late in 2012, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency took steps to delist the site from the program, saying the work is done.

Perhaps, but as environmentalists say, everything ends up somewhere — interestingly, the Youngstown dump now being considered for expansion has been taking in toxic waste since 2001, when the Love Canal cleanup was in full swing.

Clyde Burmaster, vice chair of the Niagara County legislature on the U.S. side, says that as alarming as this new plan is to his constituents, it should be equally frightening to Canadians, including people in the Greater Toronto Area.

“There is a mega-threat to both the U.S. and Canada,” he says.

“We feel there is strong evidence the landfill materials (at the site where expansion is proposed) are leaking out beneath ground and beneath the depth that the on-site soil is monitored, and heading directly into the Niagara River.”

Why aren’t Canadians doing more to stop this plan? The biggest reason is that so far, only a few Canadians seem to know about it.

Gary Burroughs, Niagara’s regional chair (on the Ontario side), says he found out about the scheme only recently, when Burmaster contacted him. He attended a public meeting on the U.S. side on July 16.

“I’ve been trying to raise attention about it since then,” he says.

Why hasn't this drawn government attention?

You would think that a problem on the order of toxic and radioactive waste threatening Lake Ontario would draw the attention of the provincial and federal governments, but apparently it hasn’t. It’s possible that no one on the U.S. side has told the Ontario Environment Ministry anything officially, as this may not be required under law.

As for Ottawa, as many Canadians know, the federal government treats environmental protection as an enemy — Prime Minister Stephen Harper has cut environmental programs, muzzled scientists and ordered tax audits of environmental groups. It’s hard to determine what the feds would do or even if they would care.

At the same time, Canada’s environmentalists don’t seem to know about this problem either. A spokesperson for the David Suzuki Foundation, asked about the plan for more toxic waste at the edge of the Great Lakes, expressed shock and surprise.

To make matters worse, Burmaster says that the Chemical Waste Management site is on an earthquake fault line: “Should a quake happen and open the landfill . . . in just one hour those carcinogens and radioactive particles would become airborne and could be carried 60 miles (100 kilometres) away.”

Not to make this too scary, but as he says, that’s “all the way to the Toronto area.”

David Israelson is a Toronto writer and consultant.

Correction - October 3, 2014: This article was edited from a previous version that incorrectly said CWM Chemical Services LLC. has been taking in radioactive waste since 2001.