Cleaning Bill - Toxic Sites

Elizabeth Shilts
Canadian Geographic Magazine
May - June issue, 2004: Pg. 30

Dan McMullin - Sierra Club of Canada

THIS COULD be a good year for those living near North America's contaminated sites. Canada's federal budget for 2004 and the American budget for 2005 call for more spending on the cleanup of the continent's environmental blights.

Canada will put $3.5 billion over the next decade into remediatmg the 3,800 or so contaminated sites that dot federal property and another $500 million into sites such as Nova Scotia's Sydney Tar Ponds (ABOVE). "We're demonstrating that we're getting our house in order," says David Hutchison, chief of contaminated sites for Environment Canada, "as we have always expected the private sector to do."

South of the border, $1.4 billion has been earmarked for the Superfund - money slated for the worst American sites.

Elizabeth May, executive director of the Sierra Club of Canada, is encouraged by Cannada's budget but says more than 10,000 private sites will not be covered by the new funds. She says we could learn from the Superfund program, which targets all toxic sites in the United States, not just those on federal land.

"The U.S. commitment started in 1980 [when Super fund began]," says May. "The Canadian commitment just started now."

Elizabeth Shilts