Greens Urge Government to Re-instate IJC on Great Lakes Water Quality Nuclear Task Force

The Green Party of Canada is calling on the government of Canada to re-instate the International Joint Commission (IJC) on Great Lakes Water Quality Nuclear Task Force complete with representatives from the scientific community and civil society.

The IJC nuclear task force undertook an inventory of nuclear pollutants in the Great Lakes in 1997 indicating that there was a need for greater follow up on many concerns identified.   (

“Given the history of concerns about nuclear contaminants including Port Hope on Lake Ontario, and decades of nuclear waste storage on the shores of the Great Lakes at various nuclear facilities, the Green Party demands a scientific and citizen partnership to provide oversight of these impacts on water quality,” said Elizabeth May, MP Saanich-Gulf Islands, and Leader of the Green Party of Canada.

The IJC in its Report of Bioaccumulation of Elements to Accompany the Inventory of Radionuclides in the Great Lakes Basin identified the need for further work.

“The Green Party is joining the call from a number of concerned citizens and environmental groups to urge this government to take a serious look at radioactive impacts on Great Lakes water quality,’ said May.

The IJC has responded to requests from various groups stating that it will not re-instate the nuclear task force until it is directed by governments to do so.

“Protection of the Great Lakes must be a top priority.  The government has a legal duty to ensure that it protects water quality for Canadian citizens.”

“The IJC has in the past studied nuclear energy and waste issues in the Great Lakes basin and has made recommendations to governments. The Commission reviewed nuclear issues in the Great Lakes in the context of its biennial reports.  In the 1997 publication The IJC in the 21st  Century, the Commission identified a number of nuclear issues for which the Canadian and U.S. governments might consider issuing a reference to the Commission, under the Boundary Waters Treaty, “ said Lorraine Rekmans, Aboriginal Affairs Critic for the Green Party of Canada.

A reference requires the Commission to examine and report on questions and concerns shared by the governments or matters of difference arising between them. Governments have not issued such a reference to the Commission.

The IJC was briefed on April 24, 2012, by both the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission on nuclear energy and waste issues in the Great Lakes region. In addition, they heard from a representative of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

However, in the absence of a specific reference from governments, the Commission will not be taking action on the matter of nuclear facilities and nuclear waste storage in the Great Lakes Basin.

“We need informed oversight,” said Rekmans.  The IJC must create a new IJC Nuclear Task Force and report on nuclear issues impacting the Great Lakes.  This has to be addressed as part of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, and we need a new IJC Nuclear Task Force to produce such a report.”