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Citizens’ Groups Outline Toxic Hotspots Cleanup

Toronto, ON, March 6, 2008 - Attention to Ontario’s worst sites of toxic pollution have steadily fallen from the public and government radar over the past several decades. On the heels of a report by the Environment Commissioner to the Auditor General of Canada, two prominent citizens’ groups have outlined a plan to revitalize clean up efforts, calling on the federal government to stand up and lead the effort.

“The Environment Commissioner has made it clear: more action is needed. Today, we are saying just what that action should look like” said Derek Stack, executive director of Great Lakes United.

There are 43 toxic hotspots, formally termed Areas of Concern, across the Great Lakes region. Of these, 12 are in Canada and 5 are shared by Canada and the United States. Since being identified in 1987, only three of the 43 sites have been cleaned up.

Great Lakes United and the Ontario Public Advisory Council urge the federal government to make the following commitments:

  • $300 million over two years to develop comprehensive and coordinated plans to clean up contaminated sediments. This should be followed up with significant funding to begin the actual clean up effort, estimated to cost between $0.75 billion and $2 billion.
  • $1.5 billion over five years to upgrade wastewater infrastructure in Ontario’s AOCs and Quebec’s zones d’intervention prioritaire (ZIPs). This should be matched by provincial contributions to achieve the $3.0 billion necessary to clean up these sites, as estimated by Environment Canada ($2.4 billion for the AOCs) and the Green Budget Coalition ($0.6 billion for the ZIPs).
  • $5.2 billion over ten years to create a Great Lakes Clean Water Infrastructure fund. This funding addresses one-third of the current infrastructure deficit, as identified by the Ministry of Public Infrastructure Renewal. The remaining two-thirds should be funded by provincial and municipal governments.

“Volunteers in Ontario have dedicated hundreds of thousands of hours over the past twenty years towards the clean-up of the most seriously damaged parts of the Great Lakes,” says Moyra Haney, chair of the Ontario Public Advisory Council. “But that’s only part of the job. The sweat that Ontarians have put into cleaning their communities must be matched by some heavy-lifting by the federal government.”

“There has been substantial progress in all of the toxic hotspots in Ontario over the past twenty years, but there’s still much more to be done,” said John Jackson of Great Lakes United. “Our federal government has an opportunity to make huge strides to protect our communities.”
The challenges facing cleanup of toxic pollution, and the actions needed are outlined in Great Lakes Hotspots: Citizens Speak Up, authored by Jackson and available on the Ontario Public Advisory Council website at www.citizensrapinfo.ca.

“It is too easy to shrug our shoulders and say that these hotspots are beyond hope” said Stack. “The fact is cleaning up these sites is within our grasp; all we need is the political will to complete the job.”


Derek Stack, Great Lakes United, 613-797-9532
John Jackson, Great Lakes United, 519-591-7503
Moyra Haney, Ontario Public Advisory Council, 416-964-0973

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About the Groups

Great Lakes United is an international coalition dedicated to preserving and restoring the health of the Great Lakes‑St. Lawrence River ecosystem.  Great Lakes United is made up of member organizations representing environmentalists, conservationists, hunters and anglers, labor unions, community groups, and citizens of the United States, Canada, and First Nations and Tribes.

The Ontario Public Advisory Council (OPAC) is made up of a representative from each of the remedial action planning public advisory committees in Ontario. Its roles are to advise the governments of Canada and Ontario on the development and implementation of remedial action plans, and to provide a forum for discussion and information sharing among public advisory committees.





Brent Gibson

Director, Communications

(613) 867-9861

bgibson@glu.org | www.glu.org


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