Statement - Government of Canada announces next steps on City of Montreal's proposed discharge of raw sewage

OTTAWA, Oct. 14, 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, issued the following statement with respect to the City of Montreal's plans to discharge 8 billion litres of raw sewage in the St. Lawrence River:

"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.

"Section 36 (3) of the Fisheries Act prohibits "the deposit of deleterious substance of any type in water frequented by fish." As such it is crucial that I exercise due diligence as Minister of Environment to ensure that every possible action is being undertaken to protect aquatic life within the St. Lawrence.

"Upon my request, Environment Canada has gathered information from the City of Montreal to assess the environmental implications of their plans. As a result, my 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 8 billion litres of untreated wastewater. Finally, based on limited data, Environment Canada cannot conclude whether or not the untreated wastewater to be released will be acutely toxic.

"That said, the City has indicated that there is a particular urgency attached to this project and that according to their evaluations this is the only viable option available to them.

"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, I have instructed Environment Canada to immediately have an independent expert scientific review of all information related to this project conducted. This review, which will be supported by Government of Canada scientists, would take into consideration information from the City, the province, and other scientific and technical experts in this field to analyze the current proposal as well as other options available to the city to ensure the best possible outcome for the St. Lawrence.

"While we await the completion of this independent expert scientific review I will issue an interim order under Section 37 of the Fisheries Act to put the project on hold.

"An independent scientific review by a third party will ensure the best possible protection for the St. Lawrence."


SOURCE Environment Canada

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


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