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Media Release

CEC Secretariat requests a response from Canada to the Alberta Tailings Ponds submission

Montreal, 17 August 2017—Yesterday, the Secretariat of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) issued a determination requesting a response from Canada to SEM-17-001 (Alberta Tailings Ponds II), a submission from two nongovernmental organizations and one individual (the Submitters). The Submitters assert that Canada is failing to effectively enforce subsection 36(3) of its Fisheries Act by allowing leakage from tailings ponds associated with northern Alberta oil sands operations, resulting in the alleged deposit of deleterious substances into groundwater and surface waters.

The Secretariat’s determination is based on a finding that the submission meets the criteria in Articles 14(1) and (2) of the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (the NAAEC), which allows private parties to make submissions to the CEC Secretariat asserting “that a Party [to the NAAEC] is failing to effectively enforce its environmental law.”

Canada has 30 working days to provide its response, or up to 60 days upon specific notice to the Secretariat. The Secretariat will then review the submission in light of the response to determine whether to request that the CEC Council authorize the development of a factual record.

For more information, please visit the CEC’s submission registry for the Alberta Tailings Ponds II submission.

About the CEC

The Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) was established in 1994 by the governments of Canada, Mexico and the United States through the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation, a parallel environmental agreement to NAFTA. As of 2020, the CEC is recognized and maintained by the Environmental Cooperation Agreement, in parallel with the new Free Trade Agreement of North America. The CEC brings together a wide range of stakeholders, including the general public, Indigenous people, youth, nongovernmental organizations, academia, and the business sector, to seek solutions to protect North America’s shared environment while supporting sustainable development for the benefit of present and future generations

The CEC is governed and funded equally by the Government of Canada through Environment and Climate Change Canada, the Government of the United States of Mexico through the Secretaría de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales, and the Government of the United States of America through the Environmental Protection Agency.

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