Local citizens in investigating pollution cases

It seems that the unstable pattern, like a rollercoaster, of enforcement activities is not because of the funding available to IEB. (33) To a certain extent, it appears like the pattern is attributable to the altering attitudes toward enforcement. In 1999, Toronto Star was told by a spokesperson for the MOE that officials of the ministry were trying to resolve pollution tribulations, together with other companies. Their new goal is prevention of pollution.

The upsurge in citizen-inclined enforcement initiatives and their successful environment protection may have caused and encouraged the renewed commitment of MOE since 1999 regarding the enforcement. (Adams, 2001) There have been a lot of cases of violation of environmental laws and its mediocre implementation. Because of this, many citizens became more concerned about the environment around them. This is why the Environmental Bureau of Investigation or EBI was formed.

Its main objective is to protect the environment by working with the local citizens in investigating pollution cases. With the help of the local citizens, evidences were collected by EBI to prove the complaints. What is good with EBI is that the public is allowed to work with them to protect their environment. EBI was established in 1997 and has done three cleanups and two convictions since then. They also have about 20 cases that are subject to investigation. These cases include the governments and corporations in Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick.

EBI believes that they can protect the environment by conducting investigations and they proved it with their experience. Three of the cases that EBI has started with are the Kingston, Hamilton, and Deloro cases. ("Citizen's Guide to Environmental Investigation and Private Prosecution") Charges were placed by Janet Fletcher with the help of the Sierra Legal Defense Fund in March 1997. The charges were against the City of Kingston violating federal Fisheries Act. The complainant alleges that the City of Kingston was emitting toxic substances on the Great Cataraqui River.

Members of EBI and SLDF played a vital role by collecting and patching up the evidences. The evidences gathered by them were presented to the MOE. The City was found guilty in December 1998 of four laid charges. The fined 120 thousand US$ for committing such crimes. Aside from that, they also paid an additional fine of 30 thousand US$ due to the violation of environmental statutes. What was really the case is all about that it took the City of Kingston to pay such a large amount of money?

There was a study conducted in 1994 that a toxic substance called leachate was flowing from a closed landfill site. In 1996, evidence was collected to charge the parties responsible for the pollution. Event though the City has already been charged, they were still not taking remedial actions about the pollution. The day after the people involved were summoned, finally, they sent heavy equipment to remove the toxic substance. Aside from that, they also installed sheet piling and purge wells and have been transferring the toxic substance to a treatment plant.

The case of Kingston trial received a lot of attention when it comes to pollution and has formulated alternative solutions to stop pollution with the help of media and the citizens. The Hamilton case was laid b y Lynda Lukasik in November 1999. EBI and SLDF again helped Lynda charge the City of Hamilton due to violation of the provincial Environmental Protection Act and the federal Fisheries Act. Lynda alleges that the Rennie Street Public Works yard in the city were emitting PCBs and ammonia into the Red Hill Creek which is the last remaining natural creek that flows directly to Hamilton Harbour.

Even before the city has been charged, the Ministry of Environment informed them that the discharges they dump into the creek contain harmful substances and that they should take steps on how stop polluting the creek. Again, evidences were collected by the EIB and SLDF and brought them to the MOE for charges. The City of Hamilton was convicted for all the charges in September 18, 2000. They paid a fine of 450 thousand US$ which is the largest fine ever paid for an environmental crime in the history of Canada.

Aside from the fine, the city also spent about 8-11 million US$ in cleaning up the creek. The result of the charges was actually good since the city conducted investigations that have to do with pollution. They later found out that there was an unmapped landfill nearby. The city also fenced the site to prevent the public from accessing to it. They also put up “no trespassing” signs for prevention of public access. Undoubtedly, the Hamilton trial has caught the public and media attention in issues that concerns pollution.