CALGARY – A North American trade body has asked Ottawa to respond to allegations that it has failed to enforce its own laws when it comes to oilsands waste known as tailings.
Two environmental groups and three individuals assert the federal government has failed to enforce provisions in the Fisheries Act by allowing harmful substances to leak from tailings ponds into the Athabasca Watershed.
They made their complaint in 2010 to the Commission for Environmental Co-operation, an organization through which Canada, the United States and Mexico address environmental issues.
On Wednesday, the CEC determined that the submission “warrants requesting a response from the government of Canada” and gave Ottawa up to 60 days to respond.
Once the CEC receives the government’s response, it will decide whether a full review is required.
Gillian McEachern, who is with Environmental Defence — one of the groups mounting the challenge — says U.S. decision-makers should take note of the CEC’s stance as it weighs the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline.