From the Constituency Office of Niagara Falls Riding MPP Wayne Gates
(A Brief Foreword on this dangerous matter from Niagara At Large journalist and publisher Doug Draper – I’ll say it right here.
Good for Wayne Gates! – the only politician on the Ontario side of the Niagara River who is regularly and publicly raising concerns about what is now looking like an epidemic of serious discharges of pollution from a Niagara Falls, New York wastewater treatment plant to a Niagara River that is an upstream source of drinking water for millions of Canadians and Americans around Lake Ontario.
There was a massive discharge of oily looking pollution from the Niagara Falls, N.Y. plant on the last full weekend of this July – creating an unsightly blob below the Horseshoe and American Falls that made international news – and there have been at least two serious discharges to the Niagara River from the same plant since.
Meanwhile, The Buffalo News – the only mainstream newspaper in all of Western New York and Southern Ontario that has been covering this issue well – obtained information earlier this August that this plant allowed a series of overflows of untreated effluent to the same international water body for the better part of a year now.
And what is the only word we get from anyone in our Ontario government to date? A spokesperson for Ontario’s Ministry of Environment and Climate Change told the media earlier this August, that since the pollution is originating from the American side of the Niagara River, it’s not the province’s place to get involved.
As journalist who spent the first two decades of my career, from 1979 through to the late 1990s, working as an environment reporter for the then independent and family-owned St. Catharines Standard, I find this stance by government officials on our side of the border to be irresponsible and absurd.
Wayne Gates, an MPP for Ontario’s third party, the New Democrats, did an apt job of pinning the tail on the donkey in his statement below with these words; “There’s no wall or stop sign in between our side and theirs. If damage was done to the Niagara River it affects both communities and I am deeply disturbed that our Government has not acted quickly on this issue unlike our counterparts across the River.”
Unfortunately, we no longer have groups like Pollution Probe or Operation Clean Niagara on the Ontario side of the border that once did a herculean job of making sure governments on the Canadian side actively worked with their American counterparts to protect the waters of the Great Lakes for everyone living around them.)
Now here is the release from MPP Wayne Gates’ Niagara Falls, Ontario constituency office –
Niagara, Ontario – In a statement released this August 25th, Niagara Falls, Ontario MPP Wayne Gates responded to the news that the Niagara Falls Water Board (in Niagara Falls, New Yoork) violated water quality standards in the Niagara River and could face hefty fines.
“First they said it was routine and then they tried to tell us it was human error, anyone could clearly see that something was going wrong here.
Like too many big companies they tried to blame the workers as a way of sidestepping the issue. I could tell by the calls coming to my office that residents didn’t buy that story – this announcement confirms that their suspicions were right,” said Gates.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos told the media recently that the Niagara Falls (New York) Water Board violated water quality standards as a result of the August 15th spillage (to the Niagara River).
The DEC has told the Water Board they must provide a technical evaluation of their wastewater and sewage systems, identify short-term fixes and conduct longer-term evaluations which would identify needed upgrades. The Water Board is facing penalties of $37, 500 per day, per occurrence for the violation.
Gates sent a letter to the Ontario government officials on August 2nd asking it to liaise with their American counterparts and see if an investigation on the Canadian side was warranted. Gates liaised with the Ministry of the Environment several times before, sending another letter on the 23rd which pressed the Minister to act faster on the issue.
“Now the Americans are saying they believe the water quality was violated but what about our side?”
“There’s no wall or stop sign in between our side and theirs. If damage was done to the Niagara River it affects both communities and I am deeply disturbed that our Government has not acted quickly on this issue unlike our counterparts across the River.”
“The Niagara River may have sustained damage and our residents deserve to know what damage was done, if it’s permanent and that it’s never going to happen again. The Wynne Government needs to let the residents of Niagara know they care about our River’s health just as much as the officials on the other side of the border.”
To read the latest report from The Buffalo News on this issue, click on – http://buffalonews.com/2017/08/25/dec-cites-niagara-falls-violation-aug-15-sewage-overflow/ .
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