Summary of the matter addressed in the submission:

The Submitters “assert that the US Environmental Protection Agency’s regulations drafted and programs adopted to control airborne emissions of dioxin/furan, mercury and other persistent toxic substances from solid waste and medical waste incinerators violate and fail to enforce both: 1) US domestic laws, and; 2) the ratified US-Canadian treaties designed to protect the Great Lakes that are partly referenced in the US Clean Air Act. The US EPA incinerator regulations specifically conflict with the ‘virtual elimination of persistent toxic substances’ and ‘zero emission’ standards for Great Lakes pollution control of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Ratified treaties also constitute laws of the land by virtue of ratification by the US Senate.”

Summary of the response provided by the Party:

In its Response of 3 December 1999 to SEM-98-003, the Party states: “The United States Government believes that the Article 14 process is an important component of the cooperative environmental protection efforts among the Parties to the NAAEC. The United States has been and continues to be a firm supporter of the process established by Articles 14 and 15.”

The Party asserts in its response that, in the case of the two allegations to which the Secretariat has asked that the US government respond, preparation of a factual record on the Submitters’ claims would not be a wise use of the CEC’s resources, nor would it significantly advance the goals of the NAAEC. The Party states that the Submitters’ allegation concerning EPA’s inspection and monitoring activities does not meet the requirements of the NAAEC for submissions on enforcement matters, because first, the Party asserts the submitters do not identify which law the United States is failing to enforce and, second, the Party alleges that it was not previously given an opportunity to respond to those allegations. The Party asserts that the United States is not failing to enforce its environmental law relating to the inspection and compliance monitoring of mercury and dioxins emissions from municipal waste combustors and medical waste incinerators and that related portions of the Submitters’ allegations are inaccurate and based on old data. The Party also asserts that the Submitter’s allegation concerning section 115 of the Clean Air Act (CAA) misstates the requirements of the law, which, in any event, the United States is not failing to effectively enforce. The Party asserts that the Submitters don’t fully understand the requirements of section 115 of the CAA. The response states, finally: that the United States is taking significant action to reduce atmospheric deposition of dioxins and mercury from municipal waste combustors and medical waste incinerators, including deposition to the Great Lakes ecosystem; that the United States is already engaged in significant action concerning mercury and dioxin emissions to the Great Lakes ecosystem; and that the US and the Canadian federal governments work together on a regular basis, including with the International Joint Commission (IJC), with members of the public and with the private sector under several binational frameworks that address monitoring and reducing mercury and dioxins in the Great Lakes region. The Party states that it remains willing to discuss the issue of atmospheric deposition of dioxins and mercury to the Great Lakes ecosystem, including the relationship among international agreements, the reports and recommendations of international organizations, and US efforts to reduce such pollution, with any interested stakeholders.

Names and citations of the environmental laws in question:

1) The Clean Air Act, as amended 1990.
42 Section 7401(c): Pollution prevention;
42 Section 7415(a)(b):Endangerment of public health or welfare in foreign countries from pollution emitted in the United States;
42 Section 7429(a)(2): Maximum degree of reduction in emissions of air pollutants from solid waste incinerators.
2) The pollution Prevention Act of 1990.
42 Section 13101 et seq: all provisions.
3) The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreements of 1972, 1978 and the Protocol of 1987 and the 1997 Great Lakes Binational Strategy.
4) The Agreement Between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States Concerning Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Waste of 1986.

Submitter(s):

Department of the Planet Earth Sierra Club of Canada Friends of the Earth Washington Toxics Coalition National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides WASHPIRG International Inst. of Concern for Public Health Dr. J. Cummins, Genetics, U. of Western Ontario Reach for Unbleached

Submission Timeline

May 27, 1998

The Secretariat received a submission and began a preliminary analysis of it under the guidelines.

Acknowledgement - authored by Secretariat on 02/06/1997

Submission - Submission authored by Submitter(s) on 28/05/1998

May 27, 1998

The Secretariat began reviewing the submission under Article 14(1)

December 14, 1998

The Secretariat notified the submitter(s) that the submission did not meet all of the Article 14(1) criteria and the submitter(s) had 30 days to provide the Secretariat with a revised submission that conforms with Article 14(1).

Determination - Secretariat Determination under Article 14 (1) authored by Secretariat on 14/12/1998

September 8, 1999

The Secretariat determined that the submission met the criteria of Article 14(1) and requested a response from the concerned government Party in accordance with Article 14(2).

Determination - Secretariat Determination under Article 14 (1) and 14 (2) authored by Secretariat on 08/09/1999

December 3, 1999

The Secretariat received a response from the concerned government Party and began considering whether to recommend a factual record.

Acknowledgement - authored by Secretariat on 06/12/1999

Party Response - Response from the Party under Article 14 (3) authored by United States on 03/12/1999

October 5, 2001

Determination - Secretariat Determination under Article 15 (1) authored by Secretariat on 05/10/2001

January 5, 1999

The Secretariat received a revised submission and began to analyze it.

Submission - Submission authored by Submitter(s) on 04/01/1999

March 24, 2000

The Secretariat requested additional information from the concerned government Party under Article 21(1)(b).

Secretariat Information Request - Secretariat Request to the Party for Additional Information under Article 21(1)(b) authored by Secretariat on 24/03/2000

November 15, 2000

The Secretariat received the requested information from the concerned government Party.

Acknowledgement - authored by Secretariat on 16/11/2000

Party Response - authored by United States on 06/11/2000