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Submissions 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.

A submission is the first step in the Submissions on Enforcement Matters (SEM) process and can lead to the production of a Factual Record. A Factual Record is a type of investigative report that includes technical, scientific, and legal information as well as interviews with government officials and analysis from independent experts. It documents the environmental, legal, and/or public health aspects of the situation.

For more information, watch this short film about one community’s success using the SEM process.

What is a Submission video

Recently Updated

Loggerhead Turtle

Submission ID: SEM-20-001

Mexico Closed December 17, 2020

The Submitters assert that the Mexican Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and other environmental agencies are failing to effectively enforce provisions aimed at the protection and conservation of the loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) outlined in national laws and international treaties adopted by Mexico. The submission asserts that despite a nationally designated area for the conservation of marine turtles, mortality reports have been rising. This mortality has been linked to fishing, collision with ships, ingestion of marine litter, and the presence of toxic contaminants.

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Loggerhead sea turtle underwater

Registry of Submissions

Cadereyta Refinery

Submission ID: SEM-24-002
February 5, 2024

Mexico Open

The Submitter asserts that Mexico is failing to effectively enforce its environmental laws to regulate air emissions from the Ing. Héctor R. Lara Sosa Pemex refinery (known as the Cadereyta Refinery) in Nuevo León, Mexico and to manage the resulting air pollution in the Monterrey metropolitan...

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Time Ceramics

Submission ID: SEM-24-001
February 1, 2024

Mexico Open

The Submitter asserts that Mexico is failing to effectively enforce its environmental laws with regard to unauthorized land use change and water extraction. The Submitter asserts that Mexico is failing to address the environmental impacts of a ceramics factory, including unauthorized forest land...

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Vessel Pollution in Pacific Canada

Submission ID: SEM-23-007
November 2, 2023

Canada Open

The submission asserts that Canada is failing to effectively enforce its environmental laws, particularly Section 36(3) of the Fisheries Act, to prevent pollution of the marine environment by cruise ships and other vessels along its Pacific coast. In submission SEM-23-007 (Vessel Pollution...

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Illegal Logging in Jalisco

Submission ID: SEM-23-006
May 17, 2023

Mexico Open

The submission asserts that Mexico is failing to effectively enforce its environmental laws, including the Sustainable Forest Development Act and the Ecological Balance and Environmental Protection Act, to prevent illegal logging and forest land use change in the municipality of Cuautla, Jalisco,...

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Valle de Bravo-Amanalco Sub-Basin

Submission ID: SEM-23-005
May 15, 2023

Mexico Open

The Submitters assert that Mexico is failing to effectively enforce its environmental laws including constitutional law, the National Waters Act, the Ecological Balance Act and Environmental Protection Act to protect forests, biodiversity, and water resources from degradation and contamination in...

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La Primavera Forest II

Submission ID: SEM-23-004
May 11, 2023

Mexico Closed

The Submitter asserts that Mexico is failing to effectively enforce its environmental laws to adequately evaluate the environmental impacts of a residential development in Tlajomulco de Zúñiga, near La Primavera Forest Protected Area in Jalisco, Mexico. The area is also designated as a biosphere...

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Submission Success Stories

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.

© Andres Youshimats

Submission Success Stories


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.

Submission Success Stories

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.

Submission Success Stories

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.

Submission Success Stories

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.

Submission Success Stories

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.

Compliance Tracker

This tool has been established to provide the public with a resource to track compliance with the SEM process deadlines established under the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation, the Guidelines for Submissions on Enforcement Matters and Articles 24.27 and 24.28 of the Environment Chapter of the free trade agreement between Canada, Mexico and the United States (CUSMA, T-MEC, USMCA).

Contact SEM

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

Paolo Solano Tovar
Director, Legal Affairs and SEM Unit
(514) 350-4321