Summidero Canyon, Chiapas

© Andres Youshimats

Submissions on Enforcement Matters

If you believe that an environmental law is not being effectively enforced by Canada, Mexico or the United States, you can file a submission on enforcement matters

What Is a Submission?

A submission is a written document filed by the public with the Secretariat asserting that Canada, Mexico or the United States is failing to effectively enforce its environmental law. For more information, watch this short film about how one community successfully used the Submission on Enforcement Matters (SEM) process.

Filing a Submission

Click here for more information about who can file a submission, what it must contain, detailed steps in the SEM process & more.

Submission Success Stories

© Andres Youshimats

Sumidero Canyon II

Summary: The submitter asserted that Mexico is failing to effectively enforce its environmental law in connection with the operation of a rock quarry that is allegedly damaging Sumidero Canyon National Park in Chiapas, Mexico. The company in question began quarrying limestone in the area back in 1965.

Outcome: In May 2019 the Attorney General for Environmental Protection (Procuraduría Federal de Protección al Ambiente, Profepa) ordered closure of the facilities for limestone processing and in December 2019 the local health authority ordered closure of the facility.

Cozumel

Summary: Environmental impact assessment process of a port development in Cozumel, Mexico did not address all relevant impacts.

Outcome: This submission lead to the first factual record issued by the Secretariat under the SEM process. The process not only had a direct impact on the construction of  the pier in Cozumel but also influenced the designation of the Cozumel Reef Marine Park as a protected area.

Municipal Wastewater Drop Shafts

Summary: The submitter tried through several avenues to request information regarding enforcement of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) enforcement. Afterwards, they filed a submission which asserted that that sewer drop shafts constituted “underground injection wells” that fall under the Safe Drinking Water Act’s (SDWA) permitting scheme rather than the Clean Water Act’s (CWA) jurisdiction. Drop shafts generally transport municipal wastewater from shallow sewer lines to deeper tunnels as part of a city’s wastewater collection system prior to treatment.

Outcome: Thanks to the submissions process, the Submitter obtained not only a thorough review by the Secretariat but also a detailed and comprehensive analysis from the EPA on why the CWA, and not the SDWA, regulates this infrastructure system.

Metales y Derivados

Summary: The submitters alleged that the owner abandoned the facility upon its closure and returned to the United States, leaving behind an estimated 6,000 metric tons of lead slag, waste piles of by-products, sulfuric acid, and heavy metals.

Outcome: A number of years after the publication of the Factual Record, the Submitter and local NGOs in Mexico and US, the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (Secretaría de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales, Semarnat), and the US Environmental Protection Agency joined efforts to finally clean up the site. These efforts, which the SEM process helped to bring together, concluded with the remediation of the site in 2009.

BC Hydro

Summary: The Submitters alleged that the Canadian Government failed to ensure the protection of fish and fish habitat in British Columbia’s rivers from ongoing and repeated environmental damage caused by hydro-electric dams.

Outcome: The publication of the factual record resulted in improved public participation procedures in the environmental assessment process. This allowed for more comprehensive planning of water use and fish conservation efforts at BC Hydro facilities. This further increased our understanding of the interaction between hydroelectric operations and fish conservation.

 

BC Mining

Summary: The submission addressed Canada’s alleged failure to protect fish and fish habitat from the impacts of the mining industry in British Columbia. Among other issues, the Factual Record addressed operations at the Britannia Mine.

Outcome: Through increased public participation and transparency facilitated by the SEM process, a new water treatment plant was developed at the mine. Since then, the cleanup of the Britannia Mine area has proceeded to the point where it is almost 100 per cent free of toxic runoff. Salmon have returned to the lower parts of the creek and resident fish are starting to recolonize the upper part of the creek. Shellfish are once again recolonizing what was once a barren seabed due to the acidic runoff.

Recently Updated

Hydraulic Fracturing in Nuevo Leon

Submission ID: SEM-18-003

The Submitter asserts that Mexico is failing to effectively enforce its environmental law applicable to hydraulic fracturing in the municipality of Los Ramones in the State of Nuevo Leon,...

Mexico Open October 3, 2018

Active Submissions

City Park Project

Submission ID: SEM-19-002

The Submitter asserts that Mexico is failing to effectively enforce its environmental laws with respect to the City Park project in the city of León, Guanajuato, Mexico. In submission SEM-19-002 (City Park Project), the Submitter asserts that the León municipal authorities illegally...

Mexico Open April 16, 2019

Hydraulic Fracturing in Nuevo Leon

Submission ID: SEM-18-003

The Submitter asserts that Mexico is failing to effectively enforce its environmental law applicable to hydraulic fracturing in the municipality of Los Ramones in the State of Nuevo Leon,...

Mexico Open October 3, 2018

Metrobús Reforma

Submission ID: SEM-18-002

The Submitters assert that Mexican federal authorities, the government of Mexico City (CDMX), and three of its boroughs are failing to effectively enforce environmental laws with respect to the construction of Line 7 of the bus rapid transit system (“Metrobús”). In SEM-18-002 (Metrobús...

Mexico Open February 2, 2018
Registry of all Submissions  Compliance Tracker

Contact SEM

If you have questions about the submission process, contact the SEM unit:

Paolo Solano Tovar
Interim Director, Legal Affairs and Submissions and Enforcement Matters (SEM)
(514) 350-4321