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GLIN==> IJC Assesses Cleanup of Hamilton Harbour



Hot off the Press from the International Joint Commission!
December 20, 1999

The Autumn 1999 issue of Focus Now Available:
http://www.ijc.org/focus/v24i3/index.html


The IJC Completes Review of the Hamilton Harbor Stage 2 Remedial Action
Plan:
http://www.ijc.org/boards/annex2/hhrap2.html


News Release
International Joint Commission Recommends Actions on Restoration Activities
for Hamilton Harbour 
					
The International Joint Commission (IJC) today announces findings and
recommendations from its assessment of federal, state and provincial
governments' activities toward Hamilton Harbour restoration.  The assessment
notes successes and opportunities to overcome obstacles in the ongoing
effort to restore and protect the Harbour under the Remedial Action Plan
(RAP).

The status assessment  http://www.ijc.org/news/hh20121999e.html evaluates
ongoing remediation by the responsible governments and is not an
environmental audit of current conditions in Hamilton Harbour.  The Ontario
Ministry of Environment and Environment Canada have primary  responsibility
for the Hamilton Harbour RAP.  Commissioners met with local citizens,
representatives of government agencies, industries, local municipalities,
non-governmental organizations and the media to collect information during
the assessment. 

The IJC's findings of notable successes in the Hamilton Harbour Area of
Concern include:
C	The Regional Municipality of Hamilton-Wentworth has completed, at a
cost of $48 million,  five combined sewer overflow (CSO) tanks designed to
control the release of untreated waste.  These projects, the first of 14 or
so proposed tanks/tunnels, have resulted in noticeable reductions of the
release of untreated sewage, on the order of 45% reduction from CSO's
region-wide.  In some locations, CSO volumes have been reduced by 90%.
These improvements have reduced bacterial and phosphorus loadings to
Hamilton Harbour.  
C	Implementation of the Municipal-Industrial Strategy for Abatement
has contributed to improvements of effluent quality.
C	The Bay Area Restoration Council (BARC) has provided an
extraordinary level of input in support of remedial action plan
implementation.  The BARC has made a concerted effort to raise funds
locally, but with limited results.   
C	Local elected officials have provided a considerable level of
attention and effort to remedial action plan activities. 
C	Previous Federal staffing and expenditure levels appear to have
benefitted the restoration efforts.
C	To date, restoration of habitat conditions within Cootes Paradise
appears to have been very successful with re-establishment of submergent
vegetation in 1997.
C	Environment Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Environment in
cooperation with Stelco are taking steps toward addressing the more polluted
sediment in the Randle Reef area of Hamilton Harbour.
C	BARC's annual publication of "Toward Safe Harbours" and the 1998
Status Report by the Remedial Action Planning Office have provided a
realistic estimation of progress toward remediation and recommendations for
further activities.

The IJC's findings noted obstacles to the timely restoration of Hamilton
Harbour including:

1.	Expected Reductions in Funding for Remediation and Yet-to-be
Quantified Needs.   
		The IJC recommends that the Ontario Ministry of Environment
and Environment Canada explicitly recognize that anticipation of future
funding needs is an important planning element to be developed for
contaminated sediment in Hamilton Harbour AOC, and develop, in coordination
with BAIT and BARC, a list of possible future actions and cost estimates for
these various actions. 

2.	Ensuring Optimal Public Consultation and Public Outreach.   
		Action should be taken to ensure that as information
regarding environmental conditions, including pollutant releases and
recommended remedial actions, becomes available, and is shared with BARC and
the general public in a manner such that early feedback is encouraged and
adequate consultation is achieved.  

3.	Uncertain Future Funding for the Bay Area Restoration Council.
		The IJC recommends that funding cutoffs to organizations,
such as BARC, be avoided due to the high ratio of volunteer effort to agency
funding and the advantage in supporting this type of activity.  In any
event, adequate notice and consultation should occur prior to adverse
actions of this nature in order to minimize discontinuity of effort.

The Hamilton Harbour AOC has benefitted from a substantial level of
financial support from federal, provincial and local governments, however
funding has become more limited and decisions regarding the cleanup of
contaminated sediment in the Harbour remain to be made. Care should be taken
to ensure remedial actions are properly phased so that unnecessary
environmental risks including those to human health do not occur. 

The United States and Canada, in cooperation with state and provincial
governments, agreed to develop and implement RAPs in a 1987 protocol to the
Agreement.  A RAP is to embody a systematic and comprehensive ecosystem
approach to restoring and protecting beneficial uses in its respective Area
of Concern.  There are currently 42 Areas of Concern in the Great Lakes
basin.  

The IJC is a binational Canada-United States organization established by the
Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909.  The treaty recognizes that each country is
affected by the other's actions in the lake and river systems along their
common border.  The IJC's primary purpose is to prevent and resolve disputes
concerning these shared waters.  Under the 1987 Protocol, the IJC is to
review and comment on RAPs during each of the three stages of development.
The IJC initiated status assessments to examine progress in specific Areas
of Concern and open lake waters.  The Hamilton Harbour Area of Concern is
the third such evaluation.  The full text of this status assessment is
available on the Internet at http://www.ijc.org      
	
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Contacts								
Jennifer Day		Windsor, ON	(519) 257-6733
Bruce Kirschner			(519) 257-6710

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