Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Private attention to public wrongs

The CP reports that the Sierra Legal Defence Fund has launched a private prosecution against both the Greater Vancouver Regional District and the province of B.C. over a sewage plant which has apparently been operating in contravention of the Fisheries Act for over a decade:
The Sierra Legal Defence Fund said it laid a charge before a North Vancouver justice of the peace Wednesday on behalf of the Georgia Strait Alliance, T. Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation and the United Fishermen and Allied Workers Union.

It claims the regional district and the B.C. Environment Ministry have done nothing to keep toxic chemicals out of sewage from the Lions Gate primary treatment plant in West Vancouver...

Sierra Legal's investigator, Doug Chapman, said the group's review of provincial, federal and regional district records showed Lions Gate has regularly failed its monthly toxicity tests since the mid-1990s, violating the federal Fisheries Act.

Environment Canada went into the district's sewage plants six times in 2001-02 and conducted its own tests, which the Lions Gate facility also failed, he said.

"They sent them a warning and said if they continue to do it there may be enforcement action," Chapman said in an interview.

"Of course, nothing has happened to this day. They continue to fail them."...

Chapman said the Environment Ministry did not put a high priority on (the possibility of adding secondary treatment) when it approved the regional district's liquid management plan.

"The province gives them until the year 2030 before they have to put in secondary treatment, so that's why we charged the province," he said.
The Sierra Legal Defence Fund deserves credit for bringing the issue to light, even if it does seem all too likely that the action will once again be stayed by the Crown. But in any event, it shouldn't fall to private actors to make sure that laws for the benefit of the public are enforced. And from the sound of it all three levels of government appear to deserve blame for their combined unwillingness to either actually improve the facility's operations, or enforce the rules that would require that improvement.

No comments:

Post a Comment