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E-M:/ Trade investigation on mercury emissions

Enviro-Mich message from "Alex J. Sagady & Associates" <ajs@sagady.com>

For Immediate Release
September 16, 2004

International Coalition Requests Investigation into Mercury Contamination
from Coal-Fired Power Plants

Complaint alleges Bush administration failure to enforce water laws
violates NAFTA

NEW YORK/TORONTO - A coalition of American and Canadian environmental
groups filed a formal complaint today with NAFTA's Commission for
Environmental Cooperation (CEC) demanding an investigation into the
dramatic increase in mercury contamination of U.S. and Canadian lakes and
rivers. Waterkeeper Alliance and Canada's Sierra Legal Defence Fund, which
represent the coalition, allege that the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) is failing to effectively enforce provisions of the U.S. Clean
Water Act against coal-fired power plants, degrading water bodies and
leading to widespread fish consumption restrictions.

U.S. coal-fired power plants are using our waters as toxic waste dumps,
said Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., President of Waterkeeper Alliance. The Bush
administrations refusal to enforce the Clean Water Act gives these
companies an unfair advantage over their law-abiding competitors, our
international trade partners under NAFTA. We are asking this NAFTA
Commission to take action to stop a corporate handout and to protect the
health of children in the U.S. and Canada.

In the past decade, the number of U.S. states issuing warnings against
eating fish because of mercury poisoning jumped from 27 to 45. Over the
same period, the number of mercury related Fish Consumption Advisories
issued for particular waterbodies more than doubled (899 to 2,362). One
third of all U.S. lakes and hundreds of thousands of river miles are
affected by these advisories today. U.S. coal-fired power plants are the
largest source of mercury emissions in North America, spewing 48 tons (43
tonnes) annually.

"Rather than coddling polluters, the Bush administration should enforce the
laws on the books and protect people from health-threatening mercury,"
added Carl Pope, Sierra Club's Executive Director.

"Mercury, in massive amounts, goes up into the air from U.S. coal-fired
power plants. Gravity brings that mercury back down, much of it in our
treasured lakes and streams, said Albert Koehl, a Staff Lawyer with Sierra
Legal in Toronto. We don't expect U.S. EPA to interfere with the laws of
gravity but we do expect them to enforce the laws that protect our shared
water resources from contamination."

Mercury released by power plants lands in lakes, rivers, and coastal waters
where it is converted to methylmercury, the most toxic form. Mercury has
been tied to neurological damage in children and may contribute to heart
disease and autoimmune deficiencies in adults. Pregnant women and their
fetuses are particularly vulnerable. The EPA has estimated that one in six
women of childbearing age has mercury levels in her blood high enough to
put her baby at risk. Mercury from hundreds of coal-fired plants in the
U.S. has been linked to mercury contamination of U.S. and Canadian waters.

Public utilities are increasing their profits at the expense of world
health, said Scott Edwards, Waterkeeper Alliance Legal Director. The
international health crisis caused by lax enforcement of mercury emissions
is the very type of practice the CEC was created to address.

The CEC, an environmental watchdog agency created under NAFTA, has the
responsibility of investigating and reporting on countries that fail to
enforce their environmental laws. The CEC Secretariat, based in Montreal,
must now determine if the U.S. will be asked to respond to the allegations
and whether an international investigation is warranted.

For further information please contact:

Scott Edwards, Legal Director, Waterkeeper Alliance (914) 674-0622, ext.
203 or ext. 209

Albert Koehl, Staff Lawyer, Sierra Legal Defence Fund: (416) 368-7533 ext.

List of Submitters:

Waterkeeper Alliance, Tarrytown, NY
Friends of the Earth Canada, Ottawa, ON
Friends of the Earth - U.S., Washington, DC
Earthroots, Toronto, ON
Centre for Environmentally Sustainable Development, Ottawa, ON
Great Lakes United / Union Saint-Laurent, Grands Lacs, Buffalo, NY
Pollution Probe, Toronto, ON
Sierra Club (U.S. and Canada), Washington, DC

Alex J. Sagady & Associates        http://www.sagady.com

Environmental Enforcement, Permit/Technical Review, Public Policy,
Evidence Review and Litigation Investigation on Air, Water and
Waste/Community Environmental and Resource Protection
Prospectus at:  http://www.sagady.com/sagady.pdf

PO Box 39,  East Lansing, MI  48826-0039
(517) 332-6971; (517) 332-8987 (fax); ajs@sagady.com

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