Government of Canada mandates an independent scientific panel to review City of Montreal's proposed discharge of raw sewage

OTTAWA, Oct. 18, 2015 /CNW/ - Today, the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of the Environment, Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and Minister for the Arctic Council, announced a panel of three independent scientific experts to undertake a review of the City of Montreal's plan to discharge eight billion liters of raw sewage into the St. Lawrence River.

As a result of Environment Canada's review of the City's information, the department has determined that the environmental impacts of the planned release are likely significant. Further, Montreal did not study the predicted impacts of this specific planned discharge of approximately eight billion liters of untreated wastewater. Based on limited data, Environment Canada cannot conclude whether or not the untreated wastewater to be released will be acutely toxic.

Recognizing these issues, the significant concerns of the public, and the need to ensure we have the best possible and most complete scientific analysis for this project, Minister Aglukkaq has mandated a panel of three independent scientific experts to review the project.

The panel will consist of three renowned experts in their field:

  • Robert Hausler, PhD, Professor in the Department of Construction Engineering at École de technologie supérieure (ETS)
  • Viviane Yargeau, PhD, Associate Professor & P. Eng., Department of Chemical Engineering at McGill University
  • Daniel G. Cyr, PhD, Professor at INRS-Institut Armand-Frappier (Université du Québec)

The panel will consider matters such as whether there are other technically feasible measures that the City of Montreal could take to mitigate the effects of the planned release, what the environmental risks are of both planned and unplanned releases, and whether there are other parameters that should be included in the City's planned water quality monitoring that would increase its effectiveness. As they conduct their work, the panel members will review available information from the City, the province, and other scientific and technical experts in this field.

The restriction to the City of Montreal's project will be in effect until the end of November 2, 2015, pending the results of the independent scientific review. Once the findings of the independent review have been submitted to Environment Canada, the Government of Canada will advise of any further action it plans to take.

Quick Facts

  • Environment Canada administers section 36 of the Fisheries Act, the key pollution prevention provision, prohibiting the deposit of deleterious substances into waters frequented by fish, unless authorized by regulations under the Fisheries Act or other federal legislation.
  • On Friday, October 16, 2015, the Minister of the Environment issued an interim order to restrict the City of Montreal's plans to discharge eight billion liters of raw sewage in the St. Lawrence River, pending the results of an independent scientific review to be completed by the end of November 2, 2015.

Quote

"The St. Lawrence River is one of Canada's most important waterways, acting as a home to several species of whales and fish while providing millions of Canadians their drinking water. The Government of Canada is concerned with the City of Montreal's plans to discharge eight billion liters of raw sewage in the St. Lawrence River. This is why I've mandated today a panel of three independent experts to assess environmental impacts that could result from this discharge. These experts, who are renowned in their fields, will be supported by and supplement the scientific expertise of Environment Canada. This will ensure we have the best possible and most complete scientific analysis for this project, and therefore the best possible protection for the St. Lawrence."
– The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of the Environment, Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and Minister for the Arctic Council

Related Product

Backgrounder - Biographies of the panel's experts

Associated Links

Ministerial statement – October 14, 2015
http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?nid=1018259&tp=980&_ga=1.18506865.95659531.1397589405

Ministerial statement – October 6, 2015
http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?nid=1018059&tp=980&_ga=1.43149549.95659531.1397589405

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SOURCE Environment Canada

For further information: Ted Laking, Director of Communications, Office of the Minister of the Environment, 819-997-1441; Media Relations, Environment Canada, 819-934-8008

RELATED LINKS
http://www.ec.gc.ca

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