Over 1,000 Canadian Scientists Urge Pollution Law Overhaul



    List includes many of country's most noted scientists

    EDMONTON, Oct. 4 /CNW/ - As the federal government prepares its response
to the parliamentary review of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act
(CEPA), a letter signed by more than 1,000 Canadian scientists released today
calls on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to amend CEPA to ensure it reduces
Canadians' exposure to toxic substances.
    The list includes 70 Canada Research Chairs, 31 Royal Society members, 6
Order of Canada recipients, and 2 Herzberg gold medalists.
    "As the government turns its attention toward Canada's primary pollution
law, the medical and scientific community is speaking in a clear voice, urging
the government to close the loopholes and protect the health and environment
of Canadians," said Dr. David Schindler, Killam Memorial Chair and Professor
of Ecology at the University of Alberta. Dr. Schindler and other scientists
began collecting signatures from their colleagues in the fall of 2006.
    CEPA is Canada's overarching federal pollution law. The House of Commons
Environment Committee concluded a mandatory review of the law in the spring,
for which the Government is required to table a response when Parliament
resumes later this month. Hearings at a Senate committee will continue through
the fall. Witnesses appearing before each of the committees have highlighted
many weaknesses in the law that have resulted in a lack of effective action to
reduce pollution in Canada.
    "Canada has a growing pollution problem that is a threat to both human
health and the quality of our environment," the scientists' letter states.
"CEPA requires significant improvements in order to deal with the emerging
challenges of harmful substances in our environment."

    
    The letter focuses on four areas that need improvement in CEPA:
    1)  Protecting vulnerable ecosystems, such as the Great Lakes-St.
        Lawrence basin;
    2)  Requiring deadlines for each stage from assessment to management of
        potentially harmful substances;
    3)  Employing the precautionary approach by shifting the onus on to
        industry to show that products are safe, rather than the current
        system, under which the government must generally prove that a
        substance is harmful before taking regulatory action; and
    4)  Providing the authority to regulate potentially harmful substances in
        consumer products.
    

    "The best science we have tells us we need to reduce pollution and toxic
chemicals," said Dr. John Smol, Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change
at Queen's University, editor of the Journal of Paleolimnology, and one of the
co-signatories of the letter. "We hope our elected leaders will act on the
science by providing the necessary legal protections for our health and our
environment."

    The scientists' letter, and the list of signatories, is available at
www.scientistsforahealthyenvironment.ca.




For further information:

For further information: Dr. David Schindler, University of Alberta,
Tel. (780) 492-1291 or (780) 325-3770; Dr. John Smol, Queen's University, Tel.
(613) 533-6147

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